I first had this Persian rice dish at the Orchard
Market and Cafe in Towson Maryland about 14 years ago and I've had it many times
since. They describe their Shirin Polo this way; "a colorful presentation
of bone-in poached chicken in an orange-mango-saffron sauce. Basmati rice with
carrots, currants, raisins, and nuts." So, naturally when I was looking to
recreate this sweet rice dish at home I wanted a very similar recipe.
I have to give a nod to several different sources for this recipe. First is worldwidegourmet.com
for the recipe (which I used almost verbatim except for a change or two), second
is Najmieh Batmanglij, third is Nesta Ramazini. Batmanglij and Ramazini are both
Persian cookbook authors whose techniques I incorporated in the preparation of
the recipe, the preparation of the rice, and for the cooking the dish.
is a time consuming dish to prepare from start to finish, but I was very pleased
with the overall results.
from one orange (preferably
organic), cut into thin strips 1/2 cup butter 3 carrots, cut into thin
sticks 1 cup whole blanched almonds 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon saffron
threads 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced 3 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 6-8 pieces 5
cups water Salt & pepper 2 cups uncooked rice
Peel the orange
skin in long strips, do not include the pith. Slice into thin strips. Place the
orange zest in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove
from the heat, rinse under cold water and drain.
the butter in a saucepan. Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes or until the
carrots are tender.
1 or 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the saffron in a mortal and pestle. Crush
together into an orange powder. Dissolve the saffron powder in a glass with 2
tablespoons very hot water.
the orange zest, almonds, sugar and saffron to the carrots. Cover and cook over
low heat for 20 minutes.
the pistachios and cook 5 minutes longer.
and thinly slice onions. Fry in oil until slightly golden. Remove onions and drain
on paper towel. Add chicken to the same pan and brown on both sides. Remove the
chicken and pour off the fat and return the chicken to the pan.
the chicken with salt; arrange the onions on top; pour the water over and bring
to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes
or until the chicken is cooked and tender. Remove the chicken and onions to a
dish. Save 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.
chicken is cooking, cook the rice according to the traditional Iranian method
- see below.
Add a small
amount of oil and hot water to 1/3 of rice, then spread the rice evenly over the
bottom of a heavy pot.
you add the remaining ingredients pile them into a pyramid shape to allow the
rice to expand.
chicken pieces over the bottom layer of rice, then layer 1/2 of the orange carrot
mix. Add another layer of 1/3 rice, then layer rest of chicken and orange carrot
mix. Cover with remaining rice. Pour the reserved chicken juice over the rice.
Place a kitchen towel over the top of pot to prevent steam from escaping. Place
pot in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
Rinse the rice
4-6 times, swirling rice with fingers until the water becomes clear. Then soak
rice in fresh warm water for 3-4 hours. Drain.
6-8 cups of water in a large pot and bring to boil. Add the rice slowly, stirring
so you don't break the boil. Boil rice briskly for 6 minutes stirring occasionally.
Rinse the rice under cold water and drain well.