Zereshk Polo, A Rice And Chicken Persian Feast

Zereshk Polo is a traditional Persian dish that combines the tangy flavour of dried barberries with the rich aroma of saffron and the earthy sweetness of caramelised onions. It's typically served alongside tender chicken or succulent lamb, making for a truly mouth-watering meal.

This traditional Persian dish originated in Iran, a country that has a rich and ancient culinary tradition. The dish combines the tangy flavour of dried barberries, or zereshk in Persian, with the fragrant aroma of saffron and caramelized onions. This dish has been enjoyed by generations of Iranians and is often served at weddings, special occasions, and family gatherings. The history of Zereshk Polo dates back to the Persian Empire, and its popularity has only grown with time, spreading beyond Iran's borders to become a beloved dish around the world. The dish is now widely recognized as a symbol of Persian culture and hospitality.

Zereshk Polo is served alongside grilled meat, garnished with some slivered almonds and pistachios for a little crunch. The combination of flavours and textures is simply divine, with the tanginess of the barberries perfectly complementing the richness of the saffron and the savoury meat.

Video Credit: Eva's kitchen/YouTube


  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • 1 cup of dried barberries
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 chicken thighs or lamb chops
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Slivered almonds and pistachios for garnish


  • Rinse the rice in cold water several times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the barberries and soak them in cold water for 15 minutes.
  • In a large pot, sauté the chopped onions in vegetable oil until they are golden brown and caramelised.
  • Add the soaked rice to the pot and sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain the barberries and add them to the pot with the rice. Mix well.
  • Add 4 cups of water to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the meat. In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, lemon juice, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin. Add the chicken or lamb and marinate for at least 30
  • Preheat the grill or oven to medium-high heat. Grill or roast the chicken or lamb until it's cooked through and tender.
  • Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork.
  • In a small bowl, mix the saffron threads with 2 tbsp of hot water. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
  • Spoon the rice onto a serving platter and drizzle the saffron water over the top. Garnish with slivered almonds and pistachios.
  • Serve the grilled or roasted chicken or lamb alongside the Zereshk Polo.