Dinner, Mains, Recipes, Rice, Winter feeds

Saffron rice with barberries & chicken (Zereshk polo ba morgh)

The dish that takes Persian-style rice to another level.

This Persian “jewelled” rice is one of the prettiest dishes in Mum’s repertoire. The ruby tones of the dried barberries (zereshk) and the golden liquid saffron rice mixture remind me of a treasure chest, filled with ruby stones, gold necklaces and bright diamonds. There’s an air of opulence, yet it isn’t snooty.  I guess there’s something about a collection of “jewels” buried in a cloud of fluffy, white Persian rice (polow), and nestled beside homemade slow-cooked chicken (morg), that brings it all back down to Earth! It’s how beauty should be.


Saffron rice with barberries & chicken (Zereshk polow ba morgh)

Serves 4-6


Saffron rice with barberries:
3 cups long grain basmati rice
2tbs oil
1 large potato, sliced into thin rounds (1-2cm thick)
1 cup barberries, washed and rinsed
1/2tsp saffron, finely ground*
1tbs butter
1tsp sugar

Slow-cooked chicken:
6 chicken pieces (we use drumsticks; thigh and breast are fine as well)
1tbs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tsp turmeric
1tsp Persian advieh*
1tsp salt
pinch of chilli powder
1tbs tomato paste
1tbs liquid saffron
1tbs lemon juice


In a large bowl wash the rice, changing the water twice. Add 1tbs salt, cover with water and soak for half an hour.

Place saffron in a small bowl, add 3tbs hot water, then place aside.

In a large non-stick saucepan bring 2 litres water and 1tbs salt to the boil. Drain the rice and add to boiling water over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes until tender on the outside and firm in the middle; don’t overcook the rice. Drain and rinse rice with cold water.

On medium heat add 1tbs oil in saucepan, and arrange the potato slices along the base. This protects the rice from burning and also makes heavenly crunchy potato tahdig, which is served alongside many Persian meals. Pour the rice on top and using a spatula, form a cone or hill shape with the rice. Pour the remaining 1tbs oil over the rice. To build steam, wrap the lid in a tea towel (wrap the underside of the lid) before covering the rice. Leave on medium heat for 2 minutes then reduce heat to very low. Cook for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium saucepan, add barberries, and mix well. Add sugar and stir, then remove from the heat. Once the rice is cooked, add 1 spatula of the rice to the liquid saffron in a small bowl and mix. Then add to the barberry mixture.

Slow-cooked chicken:
Heat the oil in a large pan, frying the chicken until slightly brown.

Add onion, stirring for 1 minute, then add garlic and stir. Add turmeric and season with salt then mix all together. Add advieh, chilli, tomato paste, and stir thoroughly. Finally, pour 1tbs liquid saffron, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water to the pan.

Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

To serve:
Place cooked rice on a large serving platter and garnish with barberry mixture. Scrape the crusted potato tahdig from the bottom of the pot and serve on a large plate. Serve slow-cooked chicken straight from the pot, pouring the juices over the chicken and rice on each plate.

1. To grind saffron, place 1 pinch of saffron threads and 1 pinch  of sugar in a mortar and
grind until it turns to powder.
2. Advieh spice may be purchased in Persian or specialty stores. Alternatively, you could use equal small amounts ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, and half ground cumin. It’s not the same, but fairly close.





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  • Reply Vermont Life Magazine » We’re Just Mad About Saffron May 6, 2017 at 1:48 am

    […] Adapted from Maman’s Kitchen’s recipe. […]

    • mamanskitchen
      Reply mamanskitchen July 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks for sharing the recipe Vermont Life Magazine – hope you enjoyed it as much as we do! x

  • Avatar
    Reply طراحی پاستل March 27, 2017 at 7:04 am

    خسته نباشید ممنون به خاطر این
    مطلب مفید

  • Avatar
    Reply Anonymous August 1, 2016 at 1:47 am

    Thank you for this! I made the rice yesterday for my family and it was delicious – just like my maman’s mehmooni rice 🙂 Great post.

    • mamanskitchen
      Reply mamanskitchen January 20, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it

  • Avatar
    Reply Tracy June 11, 2015 at 10:26 am

    My favourite Persian dish so far! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe for myself.

    • mamanskitchen
      Reply mamanskitchen June 15, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks, Tracy. Let us know how it goes and be sure to share a pic with us on Instagram!

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