Javahar Polo – Jeweled rice with saffron chicken

Javahar Polo (jeweled rice in Farsi), also known as Morasa Polo, is truly the ultimate rice dish that is often served at Persian New Year celebrations or at weddings. But you certainly don’t need to wait for spring equinox or a marriage proposal to treat yourself to this gem (all puns intended!) of a dish.

Persian food is a complex balance of abundance, color, flavor, design, and presentation. No other dish matches the sophistication and elegance of this dish and the care given to its presentation. The sparkling ruby color of the barberries is enhanced with glistening, exquisite saffron. Accompanied by emerald green Iranian pistachios, sweet and tenderized carrots, and caramelized orange peel, this dish is truly a visual and gastronomic feast.

Before you scroll down and see the long list of ingredients and instructions, let me explain this dish a little. It is the longest recipe I have ever written – but hold on, don’t hit the back button yet!

In my blog and teaching, I am always walking the fine line of making Persian dishes as authentically as I remember from my childhood in Iran, while making them inviting and approachable so that my non-Iranian friends and blog followers can also see themselves making these traditional dishes.

This is definitely a more complex dish, but mainly because of the number of components. It is not actually difficult to prepare: each component is remarkably easy.

You see, this is actually 4 dishes that are brought together and presented in one! Javahar Polo is a combination of Havij Polo, Zereshk Polo, Shireen Polo, and saffron chicken!

If you are new to Persian food and wanting to try out this dish, I suggest you make some of the individual parts ahead of time, particularly the orange and carrot combination. I would not recommend making the barberries in advance as their color and flavor tend to change after going into the fridge.

You can also make a large batch of the saffron chicken ahead of time so that all you have to do is cook the rice, make the barberries, and assemble the dish, without having to spend too much time in the kitchen all at one go.



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Javahar Polo

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Jeweled rice with saffron chicken
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4


Saffron water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground saffron, dissolved in 10 tablespoons hot water


  • 2 cups rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 8 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling rice and will be rinsed out
  • 4 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 4 tablespoons saffron water


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
  • 4 chicken pieces, combination of breasts and thighs, bone and skin on
  • 1 cup water, adjust as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, adjust to your taste
  • 2 tablespoons saffron water


  • 2 large oranges, peeled and the peel sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  • 3 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 2 tablespoons saffron water

Barberries & Raisins

  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 cup barberries, soaked for 5 mins and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, adjust to your taste
  • 2 tablespoons saffron water


  • 1/4 cup pistachios, slivered
  • 1/4 cup almonds, slivered


Saffron water

  • Using a smooth mortar and pestle, grind enough saffron threads to yield about 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground saffron. Add hot water, stir and set aside.


  • Bring 8 cups of water and the salt to a boil, covered, in a large heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Once boiling, add the rinsed rice and bring back to a boil on high heat uncovered for about 6-8 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened. Drain the rice in a colander, rinse with warm water and set aside while you prepare the pan for the next stage of cooking.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of ghee over low heat in the same heavy-bottomed pot.
  • In a small bowl, gently mix 1 cup of the lightly cooked rice with 2 tablespoons of saffron-water and spread evenly in the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice referred to as Tahdig.
  • Pour the remainder of the rinsed rice into the pot and lightly fluff with a fork. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter into pieces and evenly spread them over the top of the rice.
  • Pour the additional 1/4 cup water evenly over the top of the rice. Wrap the lid with a clean towel and place on top of the pot. This will allow the rice to steam.
  • Allow the rice to steam over a medium-low to medium heat for 45-50 minutes.
  • Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons saffron water over the top of the rice and lightly fluff with a fork. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.


  • In a large frying pan, saute the onions with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat for 10 minutes until translucent. Add turmeric and pepper and continue to saute for 2 additional minutes.
  • Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the chicken on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side to bring more color and flavor to the chicken.
  • Return the onions and add water to the chicken. Cover and cook over low heat for 60 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and salt and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the saffron water and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat.


  • Score the navel orange into quarters with a paring knife, approximately 1/8 inch deep. Peel the orange and remove as much as of the pith as possible. Thinly slice the orange peel into matchsticks.
  • Place the orange peel in a small saucepan with water and sugar, stir and bring to a gentle boil.
  • Continue to simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until the orange peel has softened and water and sugar have cooked into a small amount of syrup. Set aside.


  • In a medium-sized frying pan, saute the carrots over medium heat with ghee for about 5 minutes,.
  • Add the orange peel and syrup and 2 tablespoons of saffron water. Cover and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. The carrots should have softened at this stage but still hold their shape. Remove from heat and set aside.

Barberries & Raisins

  • In a small saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the rinsed barberries, raisins, sugar and saffron water.
  • Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the barberries have come to life and brightened. This step is done over low heat and for no more than 2-4 minutes. Take care to not burn the berries.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.


  • Gently warm up the carrot-orange and barberry-raisin mixtures.
  • Using a wide spatula, arrange the saffron rice evenly on a large platter.
  • There are many different options for adding and decorating all the various components of this dish. The easiest way is to evenly spread the barberries and raisins, carrots and orange mixture over the rice and using a couple of forks lightly integrate them into the rice.
  • Sprinkle the pistachios and almonds on top.
  • Carefully remove the Tahdig from the bottom of the pot in pieces, and either decoratively arrange them on the rice or simply serve them on a separate platter.
  • Place the saffron chicken on a separate platter and serve with the jeweled rice and Tahdig.


Keyword barberry, carrots, orange peel, pistachio, rice
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful presentaion and scrumptious dish.

    1. Thank you so much, Rozina Jaan!

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