A Thanksgiving Gift: Cranberry Rice Ala Zoe

Introduction: Thanksgiving dinner did not start as the elaborate feast we now enjoy. What used to be a simple meal, has received its delectable additions from all nations. So now that the Persians have come, I am delighted to add my very special rice to this favorite holiday. In honor of American tradition, I substitute sour cherries with cranberries. Hope everyone enjoys this because it is a perfect side dish for Turkey!


3 C long grain basmati rice, 3C sweetened and dried cranberries, ½ C cranberry nectar- (or sour cherry nectar), 3TBS butter, ½ C cooking oil, I/4 C each fried golden onion slivers, pistachio and almond slivers, 1 large potato sliced into 1/8’’ thick rounds, ¼ tsp ground saffron, 1tsp cinnamon, salt to taste.


Pour the rice in a large pan and rinse twice. Fill the pot with cold water till it covers the rice by a couple of inches. Add salt (more than you need, as this water will be drained later.) On high heat bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to prevent boil-over and cook until rice is soft but not mushy.

Remove from heat, pour into a colander, and let the water drain.

In the empty pot, stir half of the oil and 3 TBS water, arrange the potato slices, and pour ½ the rice over it.

Place cranberries and half the onions in the middle, cover with the remaining rice and top with cranberry nectar and the remaining oil. Dot with butter. Cover the pot with a towel before placing the lid and let it simmer on medium-low heat for 1-2 hrs.


a. To prevent boil over, you can add 1TBS lemon juice to the water.

b. To prevent stickiness, add 1-2TBS oil to the water!

c. To get the most out of your saffron, pour ground saffron in a shut-glass or demitasse, add 1 oz water and place it over the rice so the saffron brews while the rice cooks.


Pour I cup of plain rice in a small bowl, add the saffron and stir. Using a large spatula, mix the remaining rice, cranberries, cinnamon, almonds and pistachios. (Fluff the rice, don’t beat it!) Pour in a platter, top with the saffron rice.

You may want to decorate with more almonds, pistachios or golden onions. Some prefer to add melted butter. These are personal choices. The crispy rice& potatoes at the bottom of the pan – tahdig – is a Persian delicacy that tastes great with gravy.

Bon appetite/ noosh-e-jaan! And happy Thanksgiving to all.

Zohreh Ghahremani

Author, speaker and painter Zohreh (Zoe) Ghahremani

Zoe is working on numerous new books, public speaking and working on paintings, living by her motto that “life is short, but the road is wide!”

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