Shirin Polow - Persian Sweet Rice

Shirin polow - Persian sweet rice is a traditional special-occasion rice dish which is usually served with chicken and goes well with turkey too. This delicious sweet rice is perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is all about getting together with the people you love and care about. Spending time together, telling stories, laughing, giving thanks and of course eating delicious food and mouth-watering sweets. Like many Iranians I do add my own Persian cooking touches to the Thanksgiving menu. I feel the meal is not complete if there's no Persian-style rice to go with it!

Shirin Polow - Persian Sweet Rice

 Serves 4-6

2 cups long grain white basmati rice
2 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup orange skin, slivered
1 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup sugar (may be adjusted to your liking)
1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water
Dash of cinnamon

  1. Rinse 3 large oranges and using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin and cut into thin stripes. Rinse well under cold water. Place the slivered orange peels into a small pot, add a cup of cold water, boil for 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, drain and repeat the process two more times. 
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the shredded carrots and saute for about 5-7 minutes, add the slivered almonds, then add the sliced orange peels. Continue sauteing for an additional  5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, a dash of cinnamon, pour 1/2 cup of water, gently stir, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl wash the rice with cool water a few times. Soak the rice in 8 cups of water, add 2-3 tablespoons salt and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
  5. In a large non stick pot, bring 8 cups of water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Drain the rice and pour into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil for about 10 minutes or until the grains are long, soft on the outside and hard in the center. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse the par-boiled rice with cool water.
  6. Wash the pot and return to heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil, with a large spatula place 1/3 of the rice into the pot, add a layer of the carrot mixture, building it into a pyramid shape away from the sides of the pot. In order to release the steam make 4-5 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula.
  7. Cook the rice for about 7-10 minutes over medium-high heat or until rice is steaming, sprinkle a cup of water, add the liquid saffron, lower the heat, cover and steam the rice for another 50 minutes.
Transfer the rice to a serving plate, garnish and serve warm.



  1. Beautiful Dish. I have something similar in my blog.. Zarda/Sweet Saffron Rice.

  2. you should also try cranberry polo. i make it just like i make albaloo polo and it turns out delicious and very thanksgivingy!

  3. Soma, Thank you. I just read your Zarda/Sweet Saffron Rice post and loved it. Your daughter sounds so adorable and cute!

    Negar, thanks for the suggestion. I am definitely going to make cranberry rice.

  4. azita this is such a wonderful thing to serve at Thanksgiving. hope yours was lovely. x

  5. Thanks Shayma, we had a good Thanksgiving.

  6. What a coincidence, I served this on Thanksgiving. Delicious!

  7. Thank you Elra, for stopping by. I like to know your recipe and how you cook sweet rice.

  8. delicious! I think this rice is so fitting for Thanksgiving! I really would like to try it one day at home!

  9. Thanks you, do try it, you're going to love it!

  10. I've been looking for this recipe for ages. Two ladies in my Baha'i cluster made this for our club, and I've always regretted not having the time for them to show me how they did it. This definitely brought some wonderful memories back.