زرشک پلو Zereshk Polow with chicken makes a great meal for any occasion and is a favorite among most Iranians. Barberry (zereshk), grows in clusters like grapes. They are tangy, tiny, and deep red in color. I prefer to store the barberries in a zip-lock plastic bag in the freezer to maintain its freshness and color.
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup dried barberries (zereshk), can be found at most Iranian or Middle Eastern stores
1 teaspoon crushed saffron, dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
1- 2 tablespoons sugar
Slivered almonds or pistachios for garnish
- Rinse the rice with cool water a few times. Soak the rice in 8 cups of cool water, add 4 tablespoons of salt, set aside for at least an hour.
- Pick over dried barberries (zereshk), wash and rinse a few times, soak in cool water for ten minutes. Drain.
- Place 2 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan, add zereshk to the pan, heat it up over medium-low heat for five minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of liquid saffron and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to balance the sour taste of zereshk (if you prefer a more sweet taste, add more sugar to the mixture). Mix thoroughly. Set aside. I usually sprinkle very little sugar to this dish. I like the sour taste of zereshk polow.
- In a large non-stick pot that has a tight-fitting lid, bring 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil on medium-high heat. Drain and pour into boiling water. Bring water back to a boil for about 7 minutes. Test to see if the rice is ready. Rice grains should be hard in the center and soft on the outside. Drain the rice in a mesh colander and rinse with cool water a few times.
- Wash the pot and return to heat, add 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil, and a tablespoon of liquid saffron. With a large spatula place the rice into the non-stick pot, building it into a pyramid shape.
- To release the steam make 3-4 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula. Cook for 7-10 minutes on medium heat until rice is steaming, when the steam starts to come out, pour 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 cup of water over the rice, cover, lower heat and steam the rice for 50 minutes.
- With a large scoop take some rice and mix in with the remaining saffron and set aside.
- Serve rice on a platter, layer with barberries, and the mixture of rice and saffron.
- Gently remove the crusty bottom (tahdig) and serve on a separate plate.