Zahra’s Zereshk Polo

This dish is not only delicious it’s beautiful. Zahra grids her Saffron in a coffee grinder before mixing it with water and pouring over the chicken. This makes the whole dish vibrant orange. When topped with the rice, decorated with pistachios and dried barberries, the Zereshk Polo looks like a work of art. While it feels like a shame to dig in, the taste is worth it. When Zahra served it to us, the delicately flavoured chicken was falling off the bone. Yum.


  • 500 grams of Basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1/2 of a chicken
  • 75 grams of cooking oil
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 50 grams of dried barberries (zereshk) (Other dried red berries like cranberries would work as well)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Saffron
  • Salt
  • Black pepper



Wash the rice and soak it in a bowl with warm water and salt (2 handfuls) for 2 hours.

Wash the chicken and boil it in a pot with 1 cup of water, chopped onions, and some salt.

Cook the ingredients until there is half a cup of liquid left in the pot (Make sure to not overcook).

Take the chicken out and let it cool. Remove the bones and divide the chicken into 4 pieces.

Drain the remaining chicken juice in the pot with a strainer and place it in a bowl.

Add the saffron to very little hot water and stir gently in order for the colour to change.

Add half of the saffron water, and 35 grams of oil to the chicken juice and bring to a boil in a small pot.

Once the juice has come to a boil, immediately remove from heat.


Soak the barberries in cold water for 5 minutes. Then wash the barberries carefully and drain the water. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the frying pan under low heat.

Then add the barberries to the oil, and stir occasionally. While stirring, add sugar. Once the barberries become slightly larger, remove ingredients from the heat (Barberries will not taste good if they are overcooked or burnt).


After the rice has soaked, add it to a big pot of boiling water. Once the rice is half cooked, drain it into a strainer. Add the remaining oil, half a glass of water, and a little bit of saffron to the bottom of the pot. Make sure the stove is at medium heat. Slowly begin to add the rice to the pot, and sprinkle cumin between the rice. Steam the rice for 5 minutes on medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let the rice steam for half an hour.

Serve the rice in a large shallow dish. Crush a tiny bit of saffron with 2-3 tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl. Add some rice to the bowl and mix until it turns yellow.

Add the saffron rice and the cooked barberries to the top of the shallow dish. Serve the chicken separately in another dish or on top of the rice.

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