Zereshk Polo | A Burst of Flavor in Iranian Cuisine

Zereshk Polo

Zereshk Polo is a dish that embodies the rich and complex flavors of Iranian cuisine. This traditional Persian dish combines fluffy basmati rice with a tangy and sweet blend of zereshk (dried barberries), saffron, and slivered almonds. The dish is often paired with chicken or lamb and can be found in many Iranian restaurants across the globe.

At the heart of Zereshk Polo is the humble but mighty barberry. These small red berries are a staple in Iranian cooking and add a unique sour flavor to dishes. The berries are typically dried and then rehydrated with hot water before being cooked with butter, sugar, and saffron to create a tart and sweet taste. The addition of slivered almonds to the dish adds a delightful crunch that pairs perfectly with the fluffy basmati rice.

This dish combines juicy chicken with fluffy basmati rice that is infused with the warm and earthy flavors of saffron, turmeric, and barberry. The dish is topped with the rehydrated barberries, which add a delightful tangy flavor and bright red color to the dish.

One of the reasons that chicken is such a popular protein in cooking is its versatility. With a bit of imagination and a few essential ingredients, you can transform this humble protein into a dish that is both comforting and elegant, like Zereshk Polo Morgh. The tender chicken is marinated in a blend of yogurt, lemon juice, and spices before being grilled to perfection, while the rice is cooked to a fluffy texture and then combined with the tangy barberries. The saffron and turmeric lend the dish a golden hue and an irresistible aroma that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Zereshk Polo Ingredients

Iranian cuisine is known for its intricate use of spices and flavors, and Zereshk Polo Morgh is a perfect representation of this. The dish is a beautiful mix of juicy chicken, fragrant rice, and tangy barberries. The chicken is cooked to perfection with a blend of turmeric and pepper, while the rice is seasoned with saffron for an exotic taste. The barberries, which are native to Iran, add a unique tartness that balances the dish’s flavors.

To make Zereshk Polo Morgh, you will need chicken, onions, olive oil, turmeric, pepper, tomato paste, salt, white basmati rice, water, neutral oil, saffron, barberries, sugar, and pistachios or almonds for garnish. It may seem like a long list, but trust us, the end result is worth it. The dish’s preparation involves cooking the chicken with onions and spices, parboiling the rice, and layering it with the chicken and barberries. The rice is then steamed until it’s fluffy and tender. Finally, the dish is garnished with slivered pistachios or almonds for a pop of color and crunch.

Zereshk Polo Morgh is perfect for special occasions or when you’re craving a hearty meal. The flavors and aromas will transport you to the heart of Iran, and you’ll feel like you’re sitting at a Persian feast. So, gather your ingredients, get creative, and enjoy this delicious dish with your loved ones!

For the Chicken:

  • Chicken pieces with bones and skin
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Ground turmeric
  • Ground pepper
  • Water
  • Tomato paste
  • Salt

For the Rice:

  • White basmati rice, soaked and rinsed
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Neutral oil
  • Saffron water

For the Barberries:

  • Barberries, rinsed
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Saffron water


Slivered pistachios or almonds


Sauté onions: 

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent. Add turmeric and ground pepper and continue sautéing for 2 more minutes. Remove onions from the pan and set aside.

Sauté chicken: 

In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Return the onions to the pan and add enough water to cover the chicken. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 60 minutes.

Cook rice: 

While the chicken is cooking, rinse the basmati rice and soak it in water for at least one hour. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and salt to a boil. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Boil for 6-8 minutes or until slightly softened. Drain the rice in a colander and set it aside.

Create Tah-dig: 

In a non-stick pot, add 2 tbsp oil. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of lightly cooked rice with 1 tbsp saffron-water mixture. Spread this mixture evenly in the bottom of the pot to create the crispy rice known as Tah-dig.

Layer rice: 

Pour the remainder of the rinsed rice into the pot and lightly fluff it with a fork. Drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp oil evenly over the top of the rice. Pour 1/4 cup of water over the rice. Wrap the pot’s lid with a clean towel and place it on top of the pot. Let the rice steam over medium-low heat for 45 minutes. Then, pour the remaining 1 tbsp saffron water over the top of the rice. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Prepare barberries: 

Rinse the barberries and set them aside. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter. Add the barberries, sugar, and saffron water. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the barberries brighten up. Be careful not to burn the berries during this 2-4 minute step.

Zereshk Polo
Image by stockking on Freepik

Assemble and serve: 

Select a large serving platter and place it on top of the pot. Carefully and swiftly invert the rice onto the platter. Decorate the edges and top of the rice with the barberries and garnish with slivered pistachios or almonds. Arrange the chicken pieces around the rice and serve hot. Enjoy your Zereshk Polo!

Experience Iranian Cuisine with ToIranTour

If you are a food lover looking to explore the rich and diverse cuisine of Iran, traveling to Iran on a customized tour is the best way to do so. By opting for a tour that is specifically designed to suit your preferences and interests, you can ensure that you get to experience the best of Iranian cuisine in a way that is tailored to your needs.

ToIranTour is a professional tour operator that specializes in organizing customized Iran tours and travel packages. We understand that every traveler is different and has unique interests and preferences, which is why we strive to design tours that are tailored to meet the specific needs and interests of our clients.

When it comes to food and culinary experiences, our team of experts can design a tour that takes you on a culinary journey through the diverse and delicious cuisine of Iran. Whether you are interested in exploring the traditional rice dishes, hearty stews, or the mouth-watering kebabs, our team can design a plan that suits your preferences and allows you to experience the best of Iranian cuisine and Iran tours.

We can also arrange cultural experiences related to Iranian cuisine, such as cooking classes and food tours that allow you to learn about the history and culture behind the dishes you are trying and taste the Top Iranian Foods to Try While Visiting Iran. Our team of experienced guides and food experts can take you on a journey through the markets, local eateries, and restaurants where you can taste the authentic flavors of Iranian cuisine.

At ToIranTour, we are committed to helping you have a great experience in Iran. We strive to ensure that every aspect of your trip, from accommodation to transportation and activities, is tailored to meet your needs and preferences. By traveling to Iran with us, you can rest assured that you will have an unforgettable culinary experience in Iran that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *