There are plenty of variations of pilaf depending on what country you’re in. Iranian pilaf, also known as Persian Pulao or “Polo”, is made with salted rice, candied garnishes, and lamb. The recipe I used did not feature meat of any kind, which is typical of Shirin Polow, but there are several meat dishes that can be paired with this pilaf. This dish is sweet and unique, using easy to find ingredients to create a beautiful centerpiece at dinnertime.
First step: soak basmati rice in salted water. The recipe suggests two hours of soaking, but I left mine for about five hours.
I started by boiling water, sugar, and saffron in a saucepan, then tossing in orange peel. It took about five minutes for my orange peel to soften; when it did I took the pan off the heat. Once cool I stirred in rose water. My advice for this dish is not to be heavy handed with the orange and rose flavors. They were very overpowering once my dish was finished.
Boil your rice in its salted water until the rice rises to the surface. It is not fully cooked yet, but your next step is to steam it, so drain your rice, then pour milk, canola oil, and more saffron in the saucepan. Return your rice to the saucepan and gather it into a mound, pressing the sides with the back of a wooden spoon to ensure it stays put. Poke five holes in this mound with your spoon handle to let the steam out, then cover your milk and rice mixture and cook on medium heat for fifteen minutes.
Now pour melted butter and boiling water over the rice and cover again to let it cook over low heat for half an hour.
Plate the rice and scrape the crust on the bottom of the pan, then add it on top of your pilaf. Finally, your pistachios, slivered almonds, and carrot can go on top after your candied garnish or you can do what I did and stir the nuts and carrot into the orange-rosewater mix, then throw it all on top. Your pilaf is ready to eat right away with a variety of textures and colors and that surprising sweet flavor.