For a couple of weeks in June, sour cherries were available at the farmers market and some of the local farm markets. When I saw them, I bought a bunch, pitted them and, since I was not going to use them right away, put them in the freezer.
Then, I took them out…
[If you cannot get fresh sour cherries, you can find jarred sour cherries in middle eastern markets, or I even saw them at Trader Joes. They tend to be packed in a syrup, so you need to pull back on any added sweetness in the recipe.]
Back to my frozen cherries…I took them out the night before to thaw, and then was ready to make some Albaloo Polo, aka sour cherry rice. I had never had it before, but was quite eager to try some. I looked at several recipes, but decided upon Luisa Shafia’s Rice with Sour Cherries and Almonds from her book The New Persian Kitchen.
It was very good. Having never tasted it before, I made it with a couple of different salads – my Carrot Salad and a Persian cucumber-tomato-onion salad with mint and lime juice. After tasting it, I think it would make a perfect side dish with roast chicken. I will consider making it with my Honey Orange Roasted Chicken for Rosh Hashanah next year. I think that would make a very special dinner.
As a note – here is a close-up of the salad – the only dressing is crushed dried mint, lime juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Delicious!
Albaloo Polo (Persian Rice with Sour Cherries)
very slightly adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Luisa Shafia (Rice with Sour Cherries and Almonds)
2 cups white basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
3 cups water
2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 pound fresh sour cherries, pitted (from Highland Orchards)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1/2 tsp prepared saffron (ground and steeped in 1 Tbsp hot water)
Drain the rice and rinse it with cold water until the water runs clear. You want to remove the excess starch.
In a pot (6 qt is good) bring the 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil. Turn down the heat to the lowest level, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Dot with butter and fluff with a fork.
While the rice is cooking, put the cherries in a skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat to low and add the honey, cinnamon, cardamom, and 1 tsp salt. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the cooking liquid is very thick.
Spoon the rice into a large bowl. Fold in the cherries and their cooking liquid.
Fold in the almonds and saffron and season with salt.
Serve and enjoy!
Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish.