The mere mention of Persian or Iranian cuisine brings to mind the delectably elaborate spread of non-vegetarian dishes. From kebabs to lamb curry, a Persian palate is as rich as its culture. At the same time, Persian cuisine is also serious about its rice. Emerging from this very eloquent food spread is the famous Barberry Saffron Rice, commonly known as Zereshk Polo Ba Morgh, served with the ultimate side dish of Saffron Chicken commonly known as Khoresh-e Morgh.

Ancient Mix Of Berries, Saffron Meat, And Rice

A traditional Iranian or Persian food has a lavish use of dry fruits and berries, infused in the combination of meat, vegetables, and rice. In fact, there is also a good use of fruits such as plums, pomegranates, prunes, apricots, and raisins. This is thanks to the abundant cultivation of dry fruits and pumps in the region that they have made their way into culinary experiments.

As for Zereshk Polo Ba Morgh or any other type of rice that is prepared under Persian cuisine is said to have its origin in the Polo or more commonly known as Pulao. A recipe that comprises rice cooked in stock with spices, vegetables, or meat is said to have been in practice since the Abbasid Caliphate’s period. It was during his time that different methods of cooking rice were done and spread rapidly from Spain to Afghanistan and India. Here’s the recipe.


For the steamed rice:

2 cups long grain Basmati rice

2 tbsp Oil

2 tsp Salt

For the saffron rice:

2 cups of steamed rice

20 strands of Saffron

For the barberry rice:

1 cup saffron rice

½ cup dried barberries

2 tbsp saffron water

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp sugar

Pistachio, for garnishing

Khoresh Morgh:

1 onion

1 garlic clove

30 strands of saffron

1 kg chicken legs

4 tbsp tomato paste

3 tbsp oil

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp turmeric powder



Begin by steaming the Basmati rice. 

Thoroughly wash the rice until the water comes clear.

And soak the rice for about 10 minutes in water.

Meanwhile, add 3 litres of water and salt and bring it to a boil.

Now drain the soaked rice and add it to the boiling pot. Let it boil for 6 minutes.

Remember to keep checking. When the rice turns soft on the outside and crunchy inside it is ready.

Remove from the heat and run under cold water to cool it down.

In another pan over medium heat pour oil and place the cooled-down rice over it. Place a lid and cover. As a little steam builds up in the pot, turn the heat to low.

Let it steam for 40 minutes or until the rice turns fluffy.

For the saffron rice:

Crush saffron along with a little salt into powder. Pour it over hot water and let it dissolve.

Now place a small amount of steamed rice in a bowl, pour the saffron liquid and mix until it comes to the desired colour.

For the barberry rice:

Over medium heat in a pan add butter and barberries. To this add sugar and water.

Let it boil until the water evaporates and barberries become plump.

Now mix a part of the barberries with a part of the saffron rice. Keep aside.

For the zereshk polo:

On a plate layer the white steamed rice. Then spread a layer of saffron rice and on top barberry rice. Garnish with pistachios.

For the Persian chicken:

In a pan over medium heat pour oil and add the chicken. Fry it golden brown and keep it aside.

Add onions and garlic, and cook for a minute. Add tomato, salt, pepper, and turmeric powder. Let this cook until soft.

Now add the chicken and saffron water. Add more water until the chicken pieces are submerged. Cover and let it simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Keep the gravy content in the chicken as per the requirement. Serve with the rice.