Zereshk Polow is a classic recipe that will take you back in time. Persian rice dishes are layered with vegetables and dotted with succulent morsels of meat and dried fruits. With traditional and ancient origins, it a challenging dish to master, but it is so worth the effort! The quality of the ingredients used is important, which is why we ensure that all our products are locally sourced and fresh. The shining stars of this dish are barberries, native to Iran. There is not a large export market for barberries, which is why they are an exquisite treat and remain expensive. Luckily, we are always stocked with barberries, spices and other Persian essentials. With the holidays just around the corner, we want to make sure the best ingredients are always at your fingertips. Check out our store or browse our website to find ingredients featured in this recipe.
It is important to soak the rice and steam it so that each grain remains elongated, this will also help make it fluffy. If prepared correctly, the rice will create a golden crust called ‘tah dign’, a Persian delicacy. Barberries are tart and dried which is why they must be soaked briefly in hot water. Not too long, or you risk the berries losing flavour. With the orange peel, it is important to ensure that the white pith is removed from the peel, or else it will make the dish very bitter.
What you will need:
- 2 cups of Persian rice – if you cannot find Persian rice, basmati is your next best bet!
- 1 tablespoon of coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground saffron
- ¼ cup finely julienned orange peel
- 3 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 small onion sliced thinly
- ¼ slivered almonds
- ½ cup dried barberries soaked in ¼ boiling water
- ½ teaspoon rose water syrup
- 1 tablespoon dried rose petals
- Place 2 cups of rice in a deep, large bowl and add enough cold water to cover. Swirl the rice around. When the water becomes cloudy, drain the rice. Repeat this process 4-5 times, or until the water runs clear.
- Add enough water to the rice to cover by 1 inch and add 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Mix gently and set aside for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large deep pot. Add the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Drain the rice and add it to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium and cook the rice for 12 minutes, stirring once or twice and then drain.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the same pot that the rice was in. Add ¼ cups of water and mix well. Using a large spatula, scoop the rice, one spoon at a time, into the middle of the pot. Continue until all the rice is used and forms a “pyramid” or mound in the middle of the pot. Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and then firmly press the pot lid on top. Fold up the edges of the towel over the top of the lid so it is not near the flame. Cook on the lowest heat setting for 20-25 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the zereshk mixture. Dissolve the saffron in a small bowl with 5 tablespoons of boiling water and then set aside to steep.
- Place the orange peels and 1 cup of water in a small pot over medium-low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and then drain. Repeat this process again. Place the orange peels back in the pot and add ½ cup of water and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Simmer over medium heat until the water is nearly evaporated, 6-7 minutes and then set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat under shimmering. Add the onion and fry until beginning to soften and lightly brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the almonds and fry until they begin to lightly brown for 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the orange peels from their syrup, add them to the onion mix, stir and combine.
- Reduce the heat to low. Drain the barberries and add them to the frying pan. Fry them for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar. Stirring until the sugar dissolves for about 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of the saffron liquid and the rose water. Stir well and simmer for 2 minutes until the liquid is almost totally evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside 1 teaspoon for garnish.
- Assemble the dish by removing the lid from the rice pan and, using a fork to gently fluff the rice. Remove 2 tablespoons of rice and add it to the bowl with the remaining saffron liquid. Stir gently to coat and set aside.
- Spread 1/3 of the rice onto a platter. Add 1/3 of the barberry mixture on top and gently stir together. Repeat this layering until all the remaining rice and barberry mixture are used up. Do not scrape the bottom of the rice. Sprinkle the reserved saffron-soaked rice on top, and garnish with some of the rose petals.
- Remove the tahdig. Dip the bottom of the rice pan into cold-water, making sure none gets into the pot itself. Gently run a rubber spatula around the edge of the rice to dislodge it. It should come out in one piece. Turn the tahdig, golden-side up, onto a plate and garnish with the reserved teaspoon of barberry mixture and add a few rose petals.
With the holidays just around the corner, we want you to know these ingredients don’t have to be hard to find! If you love traditional Persian dishes as much as we do, you’ll definitely want to try this recipe out! Check out our store located in Vaughan or browse our website to shop our selection of nuts, dried fruits and spices!
Recipe adapted from: https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-persian-barberry-rice-zereshk-polow-237613