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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 an exotic, slightly tart taste. It is usually served with chicken, as it is in this recipe."
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2 h 50 m servings 698
Original recipe yields 5 servings


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  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; 33.3 78.1 21.9 70 627 Full nutrition

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