Shirin Polo with Raisins | Persian Sweet Rice

Shirin Polo is a Persian basmati rice dish traditionally served at weddings and other social occasions. A great side dish to chicken, fish or any roast. Sponsored by California Raisins.

Shirin Polo with Raisins | Persian Sweet Rice by

Is it just me or have we been consuming loads of sugar since fall began? Every year, the sugar recipes start because of Halloween and end around New Years. From Halloween candies to Thanksgiving pies and now Christmas cookies, it’s like I am bombarded by sugary treats. And as a mom, it’s my job to steer by kids through the sugary muck and encourage healthy eating habits.

Yes, I am guilty of making sweet desserts, but as I explain to my kiddos, it is not an everyday experience. Of course they wish it was! Growing up in a Persian household, fruits and dried fruits are our daily dessert. Cookies, candies and cakes are for guests and parties, and are not to be consumed every day.

Raisins for Shirin Polo with Raisins | Persian Sweet Rice by

In farsi, raisins are called keshmesh. We eat them with our hot tea, snack on them between meals, sprinkle them in our desserts and use them in all aspects of our cooking.

Raisins are naturally sweet, and offer 9% of your daily fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron (per quarter cup serving). It doesn’t take much convincing when I offer them to my kids as a healthy snack. Raisins are a staple in my Persian pantry.

Ingredients for Shirin Polo with Raisins | Persian Sweet Rice by

Why all of this talk about these bite-size beauties? I was asked to create a recipe including California Raisins. So I decided to follow my roots. One very festive Persian rice recipe that uses raisins is Shirin Polo, which translates to “sweet rice.” Typically, shirin polo is served at weddings. But, it is also served at other celebratory and festive events.

This dish is not overly sweet, at least not my version. I am not a fan of eating sugar for dinner. But the carrot slices and orange peel are lightly candied before being sprinkled over the rice. The pistachios, almonds and plump raisins finish the meal.

Shirin Polo with Raisins | Persian Sweet Rice by

Shirin Polo (Persian Sweet Rice)

Shirin Polo is a Persian basmati rice dish traditionally served at weddings and other social occasions. Studded with candied carrots, orange peel, raisins, almonds and pistachios it makes one beautiful meal or a unique side dish to chicken, fish or any roast. Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice


  • 3 cup basmati rice
  • 16 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS salt
  • 1 TBS water, hot
  • 1/4 tsp saffron, crushed
  • 1 1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 russet potato, cut into 1/4-inch thick circles
  • 4 TBS butter, unsalted, cut into small pieces
  • 2 medium-sized oranges
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 carrot, about 3 ounces
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup California Raisins, red and/or golden


  1. In a medium-sized bowl soak with water:
    • 3 cup basmati rice
  2. Gently wash the rice by stirring the rice in the water with your hand. This helps wash some of the starch and grit out. Pour out the water and repeat two more times. After washing and draining the rice a third time, let the rice soak in a bowl with:
    • 8 cup water
    • 1 TBS salt
  3. In a small bowl mix:
    • 1 TBS water , hot
    • 1/4 tsp saffron , crushed
  4. Bring to boil in a 5-quart non-stick pot:
    • 8 cup water
    • 1 TBS salt
  5. When the water has come to boil, pour out the water in the bowl containing the soaking rice. Add the wet rice to the boiling water.
  6. When the water comes to boil again and the rice floats to the top of the pot (approx. 6 mins), pour the contents of the pot through a fine colander. You know your rice is ready to strain if you bite a rice kernel and the center is still uncooked.
  7. Return the pot to the burner, set heat to medium and add:
    • 1 1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 russet potato , cut into 1/4-inch thick circles
  8. Using a spatula, gently scoop the drained rice into the pot. Make sure you do not push the rice in together as this will result in mushy rice. Scatter the rice throughout the pot, in a pyramid shape until finished. Your pot should not be filled to the top. You will need about 3 inches between the top of your rice and the top of the pot.
  9. Using the handle of a long wooden spoon or another utensil, gently press a hole down the center of the rice to allow the steam to travel freely through the pot.
  10. Scatter along the top of the rice:
    • 2 TBS butter, unsalted , cut into small pieces
  11. Cover the lid of your pot with a clean towel or several paper towels, and set firmly over your pot to prevent steam from escaping. The towel will keep the condensation from dropping back into your rice and turning the rice into mush.
  12. After 7 minutes, lower the heat to low and let the rice finish cooking for another 45 minutes.
  13. While the rice is cooking, prepare the toppings.
  14. Using a sharp knife or peeler remove the skin from:
    • 2 medium-sized oranges
  15. Remove the pith, the white part of the skin, from the peel and cut into thin strips about 1-inch long.
  16. In a small pan over medium heat add orange peels and:
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 TBS granulated sugar
  17. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until syrupy, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
  18. Cut into match-stick size strips:
    • 1 carrot , about 3 ounces
  19. In a small pan over medium heat add carrots and:
    • 1 TBS butter, unsalted
  20. When carrots soften, about 5 minutes, stir in:
    • 1 TBS granulated sugar
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  21. Cook for another 5 minutes and stir in 1/2 tsp of the saffron water. Remove carrots from heat and reserve.
  22. In a small pan, dry toast over medium heat:
    • 1/4 cup almond slivers
    • 1/4 cup pistachios , coarsely chopped
  23. Reserve the toasted nuts.
  24. In a small pan over medium-heat combine:
    • 1 TBS butter, unsalted
    • 1 cup California Raisins , red and/or golden
  25. Cook for 3 minutes then stir in 1/2 tsp of the saffron water. Reserve the raisins.
  26. When rice is done steaming, scoop out a spatula-full of rice and place in small bowl. Stir in remaining saffron water and stir to make the rice uniformly golden.
  27. Using a spatula to remove the remaining rice and scatter onto your serving platter. Top with the saffron rice. Place the crunchy potatoes around the rice or serve on a separate plate.
  28. Scatter over the top of the rice the reserved candied carrots, candied orange peel, raisins, almond and pistachio slivers.
  29. Serve immediately.

Prep Time:

Yield: Serves 6

Cook Time:

Shirin Polo goes beautifully with your holiday ham, turkey or roast. Mix things up this holiday and add something special to the family table.

Disclosure: As part of the Kitchen PLAY Community, I was paid a stipend to develop a recipe for California Raisins. All of the opinions I expressed here are my own. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it.

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6 Responses to Shirin Polo with Raisins | Persian Sweet Rice

  1. Absolutely elegant dish and sublime presentation!

  2. Eha at #

    Oh Laura: you really are to be congratulated on this delightfully interesting dish! I run ‘the other’ way the moment I hear the word ‘sweet’ but shall most certainly prepare your recipe and valiantly try to copy that wonderful presentation . . .all the best for your pre-Christmas preparations . . .

  3. How attractive this is and what a lovely thing to pair with the roast.

  4. Your raisins look so beautiful! I’ve never been a really big fan of raisins but you’re actually tempting me to give this a try.

  5. This is a beautiful dish. Love the inclusion of raisins. Also that it has a hint of natural sweetness with nothing extra added in.

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