Persian rice

Persian Rice

Author: adapted from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem Cookbook


  • 4 medium onions (1 1/2 lb/700 g before peeling)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 sunflower oil or vegetable
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 cup basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Peel the onions and slice thinly. Sprinkle with the flour and 1 teaspoon salt, and mix well with your hands.

  2. Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan placed over high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously. 

  3. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cautiously (oil will be very hot) add one-third of the sliced onion. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion takes on a nice golden brown color and turns crispy (adjust the temperature if necessary to avoid burning the onion).

  4. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt. Repeat with the remaining 2 batches of onion. Add oil if necessary.

  5. Wipe the saucepan in which you fried the onion clean and put in the cumin and coriander seeds. Place over medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two.
  6. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste), and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with the oil and then add the water. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes.

  7. Remove from the heat, lift off the lid, and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes.

  8. Add half the fried onion to the rice and stir gently with a fork. Pile the mixture in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.