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Persian-Style Cherry and Almond Rice

Persian-Style Cherry and Almond Rice


  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water, divided
  • 1 cup frozen sweet cherries, thawed and drained well
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds, roasted


Bring 4 cups water and salt to a boil in a medium pot.  Meanwhile, place rice in a colander and rinse well with warm water.  Add rice to boiling water and boil briskly for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain rice in colander.

In the pot, stir together 1 tablespoon oil, yogurt, 1/4 cup rice from the colander, and 1 tablespoon saffron water.  Spread this mixture oven the bottom of the pot.  Place 2 large scoops of rice into the pot, then 1/4 cup cherries.  Repeat, alternating layers of rice and cherries in the shape of a pyramid; this shape helps the rice cook evenly and form a crispy bottom crust.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Pour a mixture of the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 cup water over the pyramid.  Pour remaining 1 tablespoon saffron water over pyramid.  Place a clean dish towel or 2 paper towels over pot (this will help absorb moisture in the rice, keeping the grains separate); cover firmly with lid and cook 45 minutes longer over low heat.

Remove pot from heat, and allow to cool on a damp surface for 5 minutes.  (This will help loosen the golden crust at the bottom.)  Gently scoop rice onto a serving platter, sprinkling with almonds and mounding into the shape of a pyramid.  Use a spatula to remove crust from the bottom of the pot, and serve this on the side.

Nutritional Analysis

Per serving for 6 servings:

Calories 354
Fat 12g
Saturated 1g
Monounsaturated 6.8g
Polyunsaturated 3g
Carb 55g
Protein 7g
Cholesterol <1mg
Fiber 3g
Calcium 69mg
Magnesium 53mg
Sodium 398mg
Potassium 215mg
Vitamin E 4mg*
Gluten-free recipe? yes

* Total Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents

Courtesy of the Almond Board of California