November 22, 2010

Saffron Rice with Cranberries

کرنبری پلو  Cranberry Polow (rice with cranberries) is an aesthetically pleasing and tasty side dish. The tartness of cranberries are similar to the tartness of barberries and can be a good variation to our traditional rice with barberries (zereshk polow). This is my new favorite rice dish for my favorite time of the year and will be one of my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Celebrating Thanksgiving has become a tradition since moving to America and raising a family. I would love to celebrate every occasion that gives us a chance to get together with our loved ones and express our gratitude for what we have and count our blessings.

I love cranberries fresh or dried all year round. I like freezing fresh cranberries for later on when they are not in season but we would need a gigantic freezer for the amount of cranberries that we'd like to freeze! Cranberries freeze well and all you need to do is defrost, rinse and use them while cooking. I usually sprinkle dried cranberries in salads, make a relish for poultry dishes or just eat them as snacks. For this recipe, I used dried cranberries and prepared the rice the same way I do for zereshk polow-- it's essentially the same recipe but with a different ingredient!

Saffron Rice with Cranberries

Serves 4-6

2 cups rice
2 cups dried cranberries
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Vegetable oil

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly with cool water, soak in 8 cups of cool water, add 4 tablespoons of salt and set aside for a couple of hours.
  2. Soak cranberries in 2 cups of cool water for about ten minutes to plump up. Drain.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions, reduce the heat and cook until onions are caramelized about 20-30 minutes over low heat. Add cranberries and saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, pinch of salt and a tablespoon of dissolved saffron, combine well and cook for 3-5 minutes on low heat. Set aside.
  4. In a large non-stick pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat, add the rice and bring the water back to a boil and continue cooking on medium heat. After 5-7 minutes test to see if rice is ready-- the grain of rice should still be firm on the inside and have a bite to it.
  5. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  6. Wash the pot and place it back on the stove. Add 4 tablespoons of oil to the pot, add a layer of rice into the pot, a layer of cranberry and onion mixture, then another layer of rice and continue building into a pyramid shape. Cover and cook for 7 on medium heat until you see steam coming out, pour 3-4 tablespoons of water around the rice. Sprinkle the remaining saffron evenly over the rice. Make a few holes in the rice to let the steam out. Lower the heat, cover the lid with a dish cloth, cover and cook the rice for 45-50 minutes on low heat.
Scoop the rice onto a platter and serve warm.

Enjoy! Peace and blessings.


  1. SO happy to see this recipe! Last year, I tried this with cranberries and zereshk together, each one has its own "tangy persona".

    Merci Azita jan! :)

    Ba sepaas,

  2. Mamnoonam, Azarakhsh jan! I'm going to try the cranberry and zereshk combo soon. It sounds wonderful and I can just imagine how tasty and tangy it would be!:)

  3. What a beautiful rice the colors in it...have to try it festive :-)

  4. Very creative use of cranberries-- and gorgeous too!

  5. It looks like jewelry on rice. Very pretty and I know it is delicious as well. I am making dish for my side dish Thanksgiving. Thank you Azita!

  6. first time here flavourful delicious rice

  7. One thing that I find fascinating in Iranian cuisine is all the variety of rices! This one looks amazing and sounds so tasty.

  8. I was so happy to see that you are thinking along the same lines as I was! I love cranberries and wanted to cook them with rice this year as well! your rice is confirming that I need to do so soon!

  9. OMG, I never thought about using cranberries instead of zereshk. You are so smart. I love your recipes.