Persian wedding rice sounds like an exotic dish from A Thousand and One Nights… It is loaded with flavors of the Middle East, yet easy to make with staples you have right in your pantry. And loaded with nutrients.
I have had the privilege of living close to several Mediterranean restaurants in Houston for many years. I used to be able to just pop in and satisfy my cravings. Few things make me happier than the amazing aromas of freshly prepared Mediterranean dishes such as this one. And knowing that the food you’re about to eat is good for you too!
And so, over the years, I have added to my own repertoire some of the dishes I used to crave. This is one of them.
My friend Pam who lived in Kuwait for several years served this Persian wedding rice recently at a dinner party. I just had to have her recipe, and she was kind enough to share it with me. I have however made it even more nutritious by substituting brown rice for white rice and olive oil for butter.
One bowl of this rice provides a complete protein combination: whole grains, legumes and nuts. Add to this a salad such as my Lebanese cabbage salad, and you have a complete meal!
Additionally, you can experiment with a variety of dried fruit (for example dried cranberries, one of my favorites). And a variety of nuts. Also feel free to use more cinnamon and cloves. I like the amount listed in the recipe, it gives a subtle flavor without being overpowering. But taste is very personal… Be daring! Be bold!
Give it a try and you will never think of rice the same way!
Persian wedding rice
- Rinse lentils and cook them in a large amount of boiling water (at least 3 times the volume of lentils) for 15 to 20 minutes. Test them before the end of the cooking time to make sure they are cooked but not mushy. Drain immediately and reserve.
- Cook brown rice per package instructions. The one I use takes 2 cups of boiling salted water for 1 cup of rice and 40 minutes of cooking covered with a tight lid. There should be no water left at the end of the cooking time. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes until it starts to brown. Add almonds, apricots, raisins, cinnamon and cloves. Stir to blend until fragrant.
- Fluff the rice with a fork. Add the lentils and the onion mix and stir gently.