زرشک پلو Zereshk Polow with chicken make a great meal for any occasion and is a favorite among Iranians. Barberry (zereshk), grows in clusters like grapes. They are tiny and deep red in color. After purchase keep them in an air tight container in the freezer to maintain its freshness and color.
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup dried barberries (zereshk),can be found at most Persian or Middle Eastern stores
1 teaspoon crushed saffron, dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
1- 2 tablespoons sugar
Butter or vegetable oil
- Rinse the rice with cool water a few times. Soak the rice in 4 cups of cool water, add 2 tablespoons of salt, set aside for at least a couple of hours.
- Pick over dried barberries (zereshk), wash and rinse a few times, soak in cool water for half an hour. Drain.
- Place 2 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan, add zereshk to the pan, heat it up on a 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 5 cups of water to a rapid boil on medium-high heat. Drain the washed and soaked rice and pour into boiling water. Bring water back to a boil for about 10 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 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter and a tablespoon of liquid saffron. With a large spatula place the rice into the non-stick pot, building it into a pyramid shape.
- In order to release the steam make 2-3 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-high 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 another 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 (tah-dig) and serve in a separate plate.