Zereshk Polo ba Morgh – Barberry Rice with Saffron Chicken


Barberry Rice with saffron chicken

          Chicken and barberry rice is one of the popular and festive food. It is very stress-free and simple idea that is quick to prepare. Every family has their own recipe, yet this recipe is what I experienced in my kitchen and learned from my mom.


  • Chicken (whole thighs or breast)
  • One medium size onion
  • 2 pieces of celery
  • One carrot
  • 2 table spoon of tomato paste
  • Salt, pepper, turmeric: 1/2 tea spoon
  • Lemon juice: 1 table spoon
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, ground with a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice grinder
  • Rice: one cup per person
  • Dried Barberry: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1 table spoon
  • Unsalted Butter: 1table spoon


Flavor chicken with salt, pepper and turmeric, cover and leave it in fridge for couple of hours. ( if you don’t have time just leave it outside while preparing other ingredients )

Marinate chickens with salt, pepper and turmeric

Roast chickens with a choice of oil until golden.

Take chickens out of pan, Cut onions and fry them in same pan for a bit and then add celery and carrots.

Add vegetable

Add tomato paste to the rest of ingredients and fry it for a while.

Add 2 cups of boiling water, leave chickens in the sauce and check the flavor.

Leave it on low heat for an hour or so. Add grind Saffron and lemon juice when it’s done.

Wash barberry, fry it with a table spoon butter and sugar for 30 seconds, and add one table spoon of brew Saffron. Add the mixture to your cooked rice.

How to choose the chickens?

          Choose bigger parts, its common to use whole chicken thighs-because it won’t fall apart when serving- along whit chicken breaths.

 Chicken marinate

          By flavoring the chicken pieces, it become more tender, using vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot makes your chickens smell better when its cook.

When adding water be careful that you don’t put too much water, because it became tasteless. Add very small amount that cover chickens and leave it on low heat.

barberry mixture

Barberry mixture with saffron rice
  1. Rinse and soak barberry about 15 min to rehydrate. Drain and leave it for one hour
  2. Heat 1 table spoon melted butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add barberries and 1 table spoon of reserved saffron water. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes to just warm through. Stir in sugar; remove from heat.

To make the best barberry garnish there is some details to follow:

  • You don’t have to wait for butter to melt (if so it will turn your rice brown, we want them to be bright and shiny). Put butter and barberries in pan on medium heat until roasted.
  • Don’t fry barberries for too long, 30 seconds is enough. When they start to blow turn off the heat and take them of the stove top.
  • Adding sugar is optional but it gives barberries more flavor- sweet and sour- also it is the reason it’s shiny.
  •  Toss some of your rice to the mixture.
  • Some people add sliced pistachios and almonds, if you like to add some of them wash them first and add them same time as barberries, fry it for 30 seconds.

How to make brew saffron?

 Add 2 table spoon of boiling water in to ground saffron; set aside to steep.

How to make Persian style rice?

  • Put rice in a large bowl of cold water. Swish with your hands to release starch, then drain. Repeat until water runs clear. In a medium bowl, dissolve 3 tbsp. kosher salt in 2 cups cold water. Add rice and soak at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
  • Fill a pot with 3 qtrs. Water and 1/4 cup salt and bring to a boil.
  • Drain rice and add to the pot. Stir once gently. Bring back to a gentle (not rolling) boil and cook rice until softened but still with a bite to it for 4 to 6 minutes on high heat.
  •  Drain rice in a colander, Let sit in colander to drain fully.
  • Set a 10- to 11-in.-large cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 3 table spoon melted butter, swirling it around to cover bottom of pot and up sides by 1 in. Spoon in rice to form a cone, with rice at sides of pot only 1/2 in. deep. Using handle of a wooden spoon, poke several holes in rice cone, so steam can escape. Drizzle butter-hot water mixture over rice.
  • Set pot lid on a large clean kitchen towel, fold edges of towel up over lid, and cover pot with lid. Cook over medium heat until steam starts to escape from beneath lid, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Turn heat as low as possible and cook rice, rotating pot a few times for even cooking, until rice is tender.


Gently spoon about 1 cup cooked rice from pot and arrange on a platter. Scatter 2 table spoon berries and a quarter of Saffron Chicken on top.


Serve it Persian style, so that spoon in rice to big platter and design it with barberries mixture, on a separate plate serve chicken with its sauce.


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