Zereshk Polo (Saffron Rice with Barberries)

Hey lovelies!

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but that’s only because 2020 was a very long year :D. Here in Melbourne, its day 2 our third lockdown. I started my day by walking my pups and getting a chai latte from local cafe. When I got home, I got to cook this delicious Persian meal that I hadn’t cooked for a very long time!

I’ve learned in lockdown to enjoy the little things in life and that there’s always a positive side to everything! 🙂

Barberries are unique to Persian cuisine, at least as far as I have researched! I love their tart tase, they’re not overly sour and when slightly fried with butter, they add a gorgeous colour and lovely taste to whatever they’re added to.

Fresh Zereshk (barberries)

In this particular dish, they are added to saffron rice. The rice is then served with a chicken casserole. Saffron, barberries, and spices used in chicken casserole make up for a very tasty dish that is quite simple to make.

Hope you love this dish as much as I do! ❤

Ingredients:

Barberries and Saffron Rice:
– 3 cups Basmati long grain rice (this brand is what I use)
– 2 teaspoons of saffron, brewed in 1/4 cup of hot water
– 50g of barberries (Sold here in Melbourne)
– Salt

Chicken Stew:
– 1 kg of free-range chicken (I used breast part of chicken as it is less fatty, but most commonly the legs are also used to add extra flavour), cut into cubes
– 1 white onion
– 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
– 1 tablespoon of turmeric
– Zest of one orange
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 1L of salt reduced chicken stock
– Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe:

To make the rice:
1. Rinse the rice under cold water a few times until water coming off the rice is clear.
2. Add enough water to the rice until the water level is approximately 3cm above the rice level.
3. Place the lid on the pot and bring it to boil.
4. Remove the lid, and let the rice/water mixture simmer, until the rice is “al-dente”.
5. Drain the rice in a colander and pour cold water over it.
6. Put the pot back on the stove on low heat.
7. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the bottom of pot, and while it is melting, add some salt.
8. Using a big spoon, add the drained rice to the pot making sure the bottom of the pot is covered by rice. As you add more rice, shape the rice into an almost cone/mountain shape.
9. Split 1/2 tablespoon of butter into several pieces and add on top of the rice.
10. Wrap the pot lid in kitchen towel or if you have, damkoni, and then place the lid on the pot. This “damkoni” absorbs any moisture in the pot and prevents the rice from becoming too soft.
11. Let the rice cook further on low heat for approximately 15 minutes.
12. That’s it! Take the pot off heat and set aside 4 tablespoons of rice. Add the remaining rice on a large serving plate.
13. Add the rice you set aside to the brewed saffron bowl and mix throughly. Leave for a few minutes.
14. Meanwhile, rinse the barberries. Then fry them for a few minutes with a tablespoon of butter on medium heat, until they are a bit darker in colour (make sure you don’t burn them).
15. Add the saffron infused rice to the top of the white rice, followed by the fried barberries. You can also mix everything through if you like.
By the way, the crunchy rice at the bottom of the pot is called “tahdig” and is very popular and tasty!

To make the chicken stew:
1. Dice the onion and fry in a large pan until they are translucent (you can use olive oil or butter).
2. Add the chicken, turmeric, and tomato paste. Mix with the onions and let the chicken brown slightly. This will also fry the turmeric and removes the bitterness from it.
3. Add the cinnamon stick, orange zest and chicken stock and stir through.
4. Bring to boil and then let simmer on low/medium heat until chicken is cooked through (it will depend on the size of the chicken pieces, as well as their type) and the liquid is reduced.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. All done! Quick and easy as I said!

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