Zereshk Polo (Persian Barberry Rice)

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Zareshk literally means "barberries"--a staple of Persian cuisine. Absolutely love it! Known as "celebration rice" or "jeweled rice", this is often cooked for Persian weddings. But you don't need to wait for a wedding ceremony to enjoy it. This pulao is made with wild, red barberries (zareshk), which give the dish its jewel-like appearance and a slightly tart taste. It is usually served with chicken, as it is in this recipe.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 50 mins
Additional Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 50 mins
5 servings


  • 2 cups uncooked white rice

  • 2 pinches saffron, divided

  • 1 pinch white sugar

  • 1 pound chicken, cut into pieces

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon advieh (spice blend)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large potato, sliced

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided

  • 1 cup fresh barberries

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar


  1. Soak rice in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, place 1 pinch saffron and 1 pinch sugar in a mortar and grind to a fine power. Transfer to a cup and fill 3/4 full with hot water. Set aside.

  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Wash the chicken pieces, pat dry, and place in a deep baking tray. Coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil, advieh, garlic paste, and remaining saffron. Cover with aluminum foil.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven until chicken is no longer pink, about 1 hour.

  5. While the chicken is baking, drain the soaked rice, add to a pot, and cover with 4 cups of water. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil if desired to stop the grains from sticking to each other and 1 teaspoon salt. Boil the rice until tender yet firm to the bite, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander.

  6. Put the pot back on the stove and add remaining oil. Lay the sliced potato in the base (to protect the rice, but also to create a delicious edible crust of rice and potato). Top with the drained rice and cover with a lid. Cook until the rice begins to steam, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and leave to steam, 25 to 30 minutes.

  7. Heat 1/2 of the butter in a frying pan and add barberries. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes; add 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons of the saffron water. Stir briefly, then remove from heat. Place a layer of rice on a serving platter, followed by a sprinkling of barberries and a little saffron water. Keep layering. Leave some barberries for the top. Arrange the chicken quarters around or on the top of the platter then spoon the saffron rice and barberries on top.

Cook's Notes:

Advieh is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, and rose petals.

Sometimes, in some areas, you don't get barberries, as I didn't get this time while making this pulao. I used raisins instead of barberries, and raisins did a great job!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

698 Calories
33g Fat
78g Carbs
22g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 5
Calories 698
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 33g 43%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 70mg 23%
Sodium 627mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 78g 28%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 18mg 89%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 548mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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