Morgh Polow ~ Persian Rice & Chicken

by My Persian Kitchen on June 7, 2012


When I was a kid I loved Zereshk Polow, Persian Rice with Barberries, and still do to this day. There is a always a bit of a debate when it comes to how Zereshk Polow is made; some people like to make this recipe by layering the Zereshk with the rice and some like to simply sprinkle it on top once the rice is served. I belong to the first group, I don’t care that the Zereshk turns in to a darker color. In fact I love the fact that the flavor of it adheres to the rice! But let me tell you what I find really fascinating: differentiating between Zereshk Polow and Morgh Polow!!!

There are only two slight differences between the two! One there is no advieh in this recipe and the second difference is that in Morgh Polow the pieces of chicken are cooked with the rice instead of being simply served on the side. Ms.Montazami’s recipe for Morgh Polow calls for Cumin seeds, which I can just imagine it would simply add a whole other level of flavor to the dish. For now, today’s post will cover the way I ate Morgh Polow growing up!


4 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cups rice
1 1/2 cups Zereshk
2-3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp brewed saffron
2-3 tbsp canola oil
salt & pepper

Slice onion in rounds and crush garlic, then arrange in the bottom of a pot. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of turmeric on top. Season chicken with salt and pepper on each side and place 0n top of onion and garlic. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 tsp of turmeric evenly on top of the chicken. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook on medium for 30 minutes.

Par-boil rice according to Cooking Rice For Polow Post.

Soak Zereshk in water and rinse a couple of times. It is best to place the barberries in a colander then place them in a bowl. Pour water on top and then let them soak for a few minutes. Remove colander and discard water.  The idea here is to get rid of the dirt attached to the barberries.  Remove colander from bowl one last time and allow for all the water to drain from barberries.

The next step is to melt 2 tablespoons of butter then add barberries and sugar. Mix well then add 2 tablespoons of brewed saffron give it a stir and remove from heat. The idea here is to plump up the barberries. Set 1/4 cup of the zereshk on the side.

The next step is to assemble the rice. Separate chicken meat from bones with hands or two forks.  Chicken pieces should be medium size, not too thin or too big. To the bottom of a non-stick pot add 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil, 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of brewed saffron. Add 2 to 3 spatulas of Par-boiled rice and mix well together until all the rice is evenly coated with the liquid mixture and it turns into a nice yellow/orange color. Evenly spread the rice at the bottom of the pot. Place another spatula of rice on top then add 1/3 of barberries. Gently move rice and barberries around so that they are combined. Then place 1/3 of chicken pieces on top. Continue layering rice in a pyramid form finishing with a layer of while rice.

Create five holes in the rice with the back of a spatula. Cover rice and cook on high for 10 minutes.

In the mean time strain chicken broth and discard onion and garlic pieces.  Mix 1/2 cup of broth with remaining 2 tablespoons of brewed saffron and pour over rice.  At this point a tablespoon of butter can be also cut into pieces and added on top of the rice for extra moisture. Wrap lid in a towel, place back on the pot and cook on low for 1 hour.

Once the rice is ready, place rice in a platter and arrange tahdig pieces around it. Then sprinkle reserved 1/4 cup of Zereshk on top of the rice.


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

gaile June 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

look at that gorgeous tahdig! I am hungry just looking at this photo. Thank you again for another delicious-looking recipe to try.

Shohreh from England June 8, 2012 at 6:48 am

Thank you for another wonderful recipe! I am a pretty good cook myself and make Persian food at least once a week, but I love reading about how you make your dishes and your photos! Keep up the good work………You are very much appreciated by people like me that still miss home after all this time!

Travel Culture Food June 10, 2012 at 9:14 am

Yummmmmy ;)

My Persian Kitchen June 20, 2012 at 9:56 am

Shohreh, thank you for your kind words!

Kathryn July 2, 2012 at 4:31 am

I made this yesterday was delicious and I made your ghormeh sabzi tonight was so delicious. My husband is from Iran and I am from Australia and we live in Australia. I was in Iran for 1.5 years and haven’t been there for 3 years which I miss my Orumiyeh very much. I love to cook Persian foods to remind me of what I miss so thank you for your fantastic recipes

Pegah July 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm

That looks amazing. Thanks for making this website!

And isn’t is “Polo” and not “Polow”? The annunciation for Polo seems more correct, than “po-low”.

grapejelly August 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm

This is my first polo and I am so excited! It’s Ramadan and I’ve made this for dinner to have after our iftar. It will be a beautiful dinner after a long day of fasting.

Thank you for the recipe and great instructions!

Leslie McKewan August 9, 2012 at 6:56 am

What can I use to substitute for the Barberries, perhaps cranberries? I have no idea where to source them. I’m going to try to make this dish tonight if the saffron comes today!

My Persian Kitchen August 14, 2012 at 10:25 am

Leslie, you can if you want to…you can buy them online.

Jaem Khairallah October 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

My most beautiful and wonderful Persia, land of the brave.Land of of Afsaneh. Land of Hafiz and Ferdoosi. Very good food, very amazing, healthy, and tastful.My family, and I, really appreciate it, Sopasgozarem.

Yousra Khan November 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

So happy to find you ..

Irene Tenney January 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

How much is “a spatula of” rice?

The food looks delicious!

Nahid February 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm

From Toronto thank you sooo much for all your hard work, dedication and consistency in putting together all these amazing receipes! I have tried few of them and they turned out just perfect! Love your easy to follow steps!
You should be super proud of yourself for this wonderful service that you provide to all of us around the world!
Best wishes to you in your continuous efforts and success!

nilu April 13, 2013 at 5:23 am

Thank you so much for the nice recipe. We really enjoyed the food. It was as if we were sitting in Iran having Iranian food.
Unfortunately, our tahdig got burnt. Don’t you think one hour is too long??

My Persian Kitchen April 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Nilu, your tahdig probably burned because either there wasn’t enough oil at the bottom of the pot or not enough water in the initial stage of the steaming.

Emilia May 25, 2013 at 12:55 am

Hello! I enjoy your recipes so much, thanks for sharing! :) I have some barberries from Iran, and they have soo many little rocks in them! No matter how I wash them, I still always find myself crunching on one after I cook a dish – any ideas how to best get rid of them? Also, do you always use a towel on your pot lids? My mom always did while I was growing up, but when we started using pots with holes already in the lids, she stopped using the towels. Will it work out better if I use the towels, you think? Thanks, and please keep sharing your lovely foods/recipes. :D

My Persian Kitchen June 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

Emilia, you have to clean the barberries meaning you have to carefully go though them before washing them. Then, place them in a strainer then in a bowl full of water. The stones and dirt will sink to the bottom….Now about the rice, it’s best to use a towel because as the water evaporates and rises from the rice, it won’t fall back into the pot. The towel absorbs all the moisture.

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