Sour Cherry Persian Rice


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I'm back, back, back again with another Persian rice creation to add a little more starch to your Hot Girl Summer. This time, a market haul of sour cherries inspired this recipe for Albaloo Polo, a sweet and sour Persian rice made with spiced sour cherries. To remind y’all, I shared a recipe for Potato Tahdig which lines a pot with saffron-dyed potato and butter-scented rice to make Persian rice royalty! I decided in the spirit of summer to omit the dairy and make this sour cherry rice completely vegan, using only oil to get that crispy crust.

As a refresher for Persian rice tips: 1. Rinse your rice well before soaking in salt water. You want to get off any excess starch, as well as letting the rice start to absorb some of that salty water. 2. Use a cheap non-stick pot! It always works better for an even crust that never sticks. 3. Trust your other senses! This is a Bird Box moment, so you want to make sure you hear a slow and steady sizzle and then pull it when the rice smells toasted and fragrant (it will resemble fresh popcorn!).

I will say butter and yogurt help give you some cushion for getting that gorgeous golden crust, so this version needs a little more TLC. This is mainly because the cherry juices will drip to the bottom of the pan caramelizing the rice darker in some spots for a Rorschach test of crispy deliciousness. But fear not! As long as you follow my steps, a crunchy tahdig and fragrant rice awaits. Remember: you can always cover the top with chopped herbs and pistachios to hide any imperfections!

Get ready for this cherry bomb of flavor!

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  • Recipe Card
Prep time 1hr 15mins
Cook time 45mins
Serves or Makes: 6-8

Recipe Card



  • Step 1

    In a large bowl, cover rice with cold water and 1 tablespoon salt. Soak for 1 hour, then drain.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine pitted cherries with sugar, black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and ½ tablespoon salt over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the cherries are tender, about 12 minutes. Strain, then return any liquid back to the pan and simmer until thickened, 4-5 minutes more. Pour the thickened juices over the cherries and toss.

  • Step 3

    Combine ¼ cup boiling water and saffron in a medium bowl. Whisk in ½ tablespoon salt and ¼ cup oil.

  • Step 4

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Boil rice until slightly tender but still not fully cooked, 5 minutes; drain.

  • Step 5

    Grease a 10-inch non-stick pot with remaining ¼ cup oil. In a medium bowl, gently stir 3 cups boiled rice with half of the saffron mixture until coated. Line the bottom with the coated rice. In another bowl, toss remaining rice gently with the cherry mixture. Add over the bottom layer of rice, then drizzle remaining saffron oil on top.

  • Step 6

    Wrap a towel around pot lid and cover. Place over medium-high heat until you begin to hear rice sizzling, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until golden brown, 15-20 minutes; remove from heat. Place a platter over pot and invert so crispy rice is on top, then serve.