Shirin Polo (Sweet Rice)

I finally got around to making this dish! I guess I always felt it was a difficult Persian recipe, but I must say it turned out to be easier than some of the other things I have made. I will warn you though it is extremely sweet (as the name should tell you). I used a little less sugar than the required amount.
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Ingredients (4-5 servings):
4 to 5 cups rice
chicken — I used 2 chicken breasts. You can also use meat if you don’t want to use chicken.
1 medium onion
Chopped almonds — 3/4 cup
Chopped pistachios — a little less than half a cup
Orange zest (khalal porteghal) — 3 to 4 cups freshly cut
Sugar — 8-9 cups (yes I know it uses a lot of sugar!!)
Saffron — 1/2 teaspoon
Oil
salt/pepper
turmeric

Directions:
In a bowl rinse the rice a few times and then add water and salt to the rice and allow it to sit for a few hours.

Peel oranges to create orange zest. Note: you can use previously dried orange zest, but you will need to use at least 5 – 6 cups. Make sure you remove most of the white inner layer because it has a bitter taste. You can use a knife or a zester. If using a zester you wont need to peel the oranges.

In a small pot add your orange zest and water and place it on the burner. Allow the contents to come to a boil and then use a strainer to drain out the water. Rinse the orange zest and add back into the pot with water at least 2 to 3 more times to take away any bitter flavor that may be present. Then drain and set aside.

Chop up your chicken have it ready to cook. Chop up your onion and add some oil to a pan. Fry the onions until golden in color then add the chicken to the pan. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric to the chicken and stir. Add water to the pan and cover (will need to have a cup of broth remaining in the pan after the chicken is cooked). Allow the chicken to cook (approximately 20-25 minutes).

In a small pot add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the sugar to the pot and stir until dissolved. Add the orange zest to this pot and allow the syrup to soak in.

When your chicken is finished cooking use a strainer and pour the broth into a separate bowl. Mix half the saffron you have with a small amount of hot water and add it to the bowl along with 2 tablespoons oil. Take a few tablespoons of the sugar syrup and add it to this bowl. Mix the contents and set aside.

In a large pot bring water to a boil and prepare your rice. Once the rice comes to a boil you will use a strainer and empty the contents. Add a little bit of water to the pot and 2 tablespoons oil and place back on the burner. Add half the rice to the pot and then take most of your orange zest out of the syrup and add to the rice. Take half of the chopped almonds and sprinkle over the orange zest in the pot. Add another half of the rice to the pot and then place the chicken pieces on top. Finally pour the rest of the rice over the chicken. Cover the pot with its lid and wait until steam fills up the pot. Once steam fills the pot take the lid off and add the bowl of chicken broth, saffron, and syrup mixture over the rice. Cover the lid with a cloth or towel and let it steam. Once steam escapes the sides of the pot bring the burner temperature to low. After about 30 to 40 minutes the rice will be ready to serve.

Take the remaining saffron and add some hot water to it. Add the chopped pistachios, remaining chopped almonds, and remaining orange zest (within syrup) to the saffron. When you are ready to serve the dish remove some of the rice within the pot and add it to the mixture. Use this rice to sprinkle/decorate the top of the rice.

After you empty out all the rice you should have Ta-Dig (crispy rice) left over…which in this dish the crispy rice is nice and sweet.

Serve with Maast (yogurt) or just plain.

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