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    Persian Rice With Meatballs And Sour Cherries

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    Persian Rice With Meatballs And Sour Cherries

    In this elegant Iranian dish, the rice becomes patchily stained with saffron and red cherry juice and the meatballs are delicately perfumed with saffron and cinnamon. In Iran, this dish is made with fresh sour cherries during their short season; I use dried, pitted Californian ones, with equally delicious results.

    • Preparation time: 40 minutes
    • Cooking time: 30 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes 60 minutes 10 minutes

    Serves: 6


    • 400g Basmati rice
    • 200g Dried cherries
    • 500g Minced lamb or beef
    • 1 Onion, grated
    • 3–4 tsp Ground cinnamon
    • 2–3 tbsp Sunflower oil
    • ¼ tsp Saffron
    • 75g Butter, melted
    • 3 tbsp Almonds, roughly chopped
    • 3 tbsp Pistachios, roughly chopped
    • 2–3 tbsp Sour cherry fruit syrup or jam


    1. Wash the rice in a bowl of warm water, then rinse in a sieve under cold, running water.
    2. Cover the cherries with cold water and leave them to soak for 15 minutes.
    3. Put the mince and grated onion in a bowl, season and add the cinnamon. Mix well and knead to a soft paste, then roll into little balls the size of cherries. Fry them in the sunflower oil over a medium heat for about 8 minutes, shaking the pan to brown all over.
    4. Bring a large, heavy-bottomed pan of salted water to the boil and add the drained rice. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice is almost cooked but retains a little bite. Drain and set aside.
    5. Mix the saffron with 1 tbsp hot water. Heat 2 tbsp butter in the pan you used for the rice; stir in the saffron and its liquid, then combine with a ladleful of rice. Spread this mixture over the bottom of the pan, then continue to alternate layers of rice, meatballs and drained cherries, finishing with a layer of rice on top; pour over the remaining butter.
    6. Cook, with the lid on, over a very low heat for 20–30 minutes until the rice is tender. Invert onto a plate and serve garnished with the flaked nuts and a dribble of sour cherry syrup.

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    Drinks recommendation

    The Corker recommends- It may not be the classic Tehran combination, but the sour cherry note and nutty intricacy of this rice dish is perfect with the turbocharged fruit of an Amarone.


    Average user rating

    4 stars