Here is a delicious side dish option for festive meals.


Serves 8 - 10
3½ cups (875 ml) chicken stock, divided
½ cup (125 ml) wild rice
1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt, divided
½ cup + 2 tbsp (125 ml + 30 ml) vegetable oil, divided
3 cups (750 ml) thinly sliced shallots
3 cups (750 ml) sliced cremini mushrooms
½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground pepper
½ cup (125 ml) boiling water, divided
1 tsp (5 ml) saffron threads, crushed
1 cup (250 ml) basmati rice
½ cup (125 ml) dried barberries*
3 tbsp (45 ml) butter, divided
1 x 3-in (8 cm) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
10 peppercorns
3 green cardamom pods
½ cup (125 ml) pine nuts, lightly toasted
⅓ cup + 2 tbsp (75 ml + 30 ml) chopped parsley
1 tbsp (15 ml) white vinegar
*Can be purchased online or at specialty Persian food markets.


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil 2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock, wild rice and ¼ tsp (1 ml) kosher salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow rice to simmer gently for 40 to 45 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and grains are chewy, yet tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the sliced shallots and ⅛ tsp (a pinch) kosher salt and fry until deep golden brown in colour, stirring regularly to avoid scorching. Using a slotted spoon, remove fried shallots from skillet and spread over a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat this step with remainder of shallots. Pour out and reserve any remaining oil in the skillet into a small heatproof bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, fry sliced mushrooms until any released liquid evaporates. Season with ¼ tsp (1 ml) kosher salt and ground pepper. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, add ¼ cup (60 ml) boiling water to crushed saffron and set aside until ready to use.
  5. In a large heatproof bowl, add basmati rice, 1½ cups (375 ml) chicken stock, ¼ tsp (1 ml) kosher salt and 1 tbsp (15 ml) reserved oil from fried shallots. Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Then continue microwaving for another 12 minutes on medium. Remove from microwave and fluff lightly with a fork.
  6. Meanwhile, in a heatproof medium bowl, soak barberries in ¼ cup (60 ml) boiling water for about 15 minutes and then drain out liquid.
  7. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter. Add barberries and saffron water and cook for 1 minute or until liquid looks shiny and syrupy. Turn off heat and add 1 cup (250 ml) cooked basmati rice and mix well. Set aside.
  8. In a large saucepan or wok, heat 2 tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns and cardamom. Reduce heat to medium. Fry spices in oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, remove all spices except cinnamon. Reduce heat and add butter. Once melted, add pine nuts, cooked wild and basmati rice, mushrooms and fried shallots. Increase heat to medium and mix well until ingredients are evenly distributed in the pilaf.
  9. Add chopped parsley and vinegar to rice. Cover and turn off heat. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  10. When ready to serve, evenly spread saffron rice on top and garnish with 2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped parsley.
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