Zereshk Polo is a classic Persian rice dish that's easy enough to make on a weeknight. This fluffy rice is brimming with barberries, a wonderfully tart and tangy dried fruit.
🌟Why you'll love this recipe
🧾Ingredients in this recipe
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
👩🍳How to Make This Recipe
If using saffron, grind the saffron and top it with two ice cubes in a small bowl. Set it aside until step 7.
After boiling the rice in salted water, it can retain some of that flavor. Make sure to taste it at this stage and wash it with water to remove any excess salt.
You must thoroughly wash your rice at the beginning to remove all excess starch. You know it has been properly washed when the water runs clear.
This translates to "barberry rice". Read my guide to Farsi cooking terms if you want to learn more!
This is the same dish but with the addition of cooked chicken added in the layers of the rice.
Yes, Zereshk Polo is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
😋 Hungry for more Persian rice dishes?
Zereshk Polo - Persian Barberry Rice
- 2 cups basmati rice can use as little as 1.5 cups, but not if making tahdig
- ½ cup dried barberries washed in warm water
- 1 small onion sliced in very thin half-moons
- 2 teaspoon sugar can use less and up to 2 tbsp**
- 3 tablespoon sea salt
- 9 tablespoon flavorless oil canola, sunflower seed, vegetable, etc.
- 1 pinch saffron optional, ground and bloomed in 3 tablespoons of hot water*
- Wash the rice 5 times with cold to lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Let it soak until step 6.
- Soak the barberries in warm water for 10 minutes, then strain.
- In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook beyond the point where it is translucent. Let it brown. You want it to be caramelized. This takes about 20 minutes. Keep your eye on it and stir every couple minutes. When done, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and the washed barberries. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they are plump. Add the sugar** to balance the sourness of the barberries. Stir constantly. Be careful not to burn them.
- Bring about ⅔ a pot water of water to boil. Add 3 tablespoons of salt.
- Add the rice to the boiling water and gently stir. Bring it back to a boil, then remove the lid to keep from overflowing.
- When al dente, strain. Do not overcook! If salty, rinse with cold water. Shake colander to remove as much water as possible.
- Add 3 tablespoons of oil in a pot. Then gently add half of the drained rice and top with the onion and barberry mixture. Top with the rest of the rice.
- Using the back side of a kitchen utensil, make 6 deep holes in the rice, top with the steeped saffron, then put the lid back on. Cook on medium heat, watching it carefully.
- When the lid gets foggy (this takes 3-5 minutes), pour a little oil over the rice - about 2 tbsp. Then put the lid back on*** and turn the heat to the lowest possible setting.
- Cook for 30-45 min from when the oil is poured on top.
- Fluff the entire rice mixture with a fork to mix it all together and serve. You can garnish with slivered almonds and/or pistachios.