Zereshk Polow ~ Rice with Barberries

by My Persian Kitchen on January 18, 2010


When I was a kid word got out that I loved Zereshk Polow. When information as such gets out all of a sudden it seems as though that’s the one dish that people keep on making for you.  As such,  I have had plenty of it in my life time. PLENTY! As an adult I still love it as I love zereshk,  barberries, and also because it is such a simple polow to make.  Of course, let us not forget that I love all things sour and barberries are indeed sour by nature.


There are a couple of different ways to make Zereshk Polow.  Some folks layer the rice with zereshk and steam them together while others simply make a chelow and add the zereshk on top.  Personally, I am a fan of the first method as I think that the polow as a whole  tastes better. With this said the zereshk changes color in the steaming process and goes from a gorgeous bright ruby red color to a dull brownish color.  So at some point I came up with an idea where I hold on to a little bit of the zereshk and sprinkle it on top of the rice when it’s time to serve it.


2 cups rice

1 cup zereshk

1 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp Saffron water

2 tbsp butter*


canola oil


First cook rice per Cooking Rice for Polow post. In the mean time prep the zereshk.


Pick over the zereshk and remove any steams or stones you may find.  Then soak in water for about 5-10 minutes. I find the best way to do this is by placing the zereshk in a colander and submerging it in a bowl full of water.  Rinse zereshk after soaking.


In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of  butter then add zereshk. Add sugar and give it a nice stir so that the zereshk is coated with butter and sugar. You will see that it will start to plump up!  Add 2 tablespoon saffron water and let the zereshk absorb the liquid for about one minute. Turn off heat.


Begin layering rice. Prep tahdig in any method you prefer. This time I used canola oil, water and 1 tablespoon saffron water.


Place one layer of rice.


Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of advieh.  Top with some of the zereshk.


Repeat layers until the last layer is rice  reserving about 1/4 of a cup of zereshk for later.


Create 4-5 holes in the rice with the back of your spatula.


Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes.


Melt 1 tbsp of butter and mix with 1 tablespoon of Saffron water and 1 tablespoon of water.  Pour all over rice.


Place a kitchen towel over the lid of your pot and steam rice on low for one hour.


Serve rice in a platter and top with the reserved zereshk.

Generally, Zereshk Polow is served with chicken. You can either add some cooked chicken as you layer the rice or simply serve it on the side. I think that Mitra’s Sunshine Chicken goes really well with this rice. Alternative, I will be posting another chicken recipe on Wednesday.

Here is a funny video for you all to watch which shows Persian comedian K-von‘s take on making Zereshk Polow.  Gentlemen, should you wish to impress women with your fine Persian cooking  skills,  please, I beg you, make sure that your polow does not come out like K-von’s lop sides master piece! You can fast forward to 5:15 to see it.

And while we are at it, no spinach or carrots either please! Sabzi, on the other hand, Yes!

* Vegans, use vegan butter.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Mely January 18, 2010 at 4:55 pm


Congratulations (belated) for your first anniversary. I am glad you keep posting good looking recipes. I just found out that there is a new Persian restaurant in my area, maybe I will try it soon and then will let you know how it was.

My Persian Kitchen January 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Mely!! So good to hear from you! I always check in to see if you have posted new recipes. I have made your salsa verde over and over and it is such a favorite!

Maryam January 19, 2010 at 9:27 am

Congrats again on first anniversary.
i don’t do the layers. i make the rice and zereshk separately . When rice it ready i mix them together in the serving dish.
i will try your way this time.


My Persian Kitchen January 19, 2010 at 10:04 am

I have never seen anyone make zereshk polow that way…so there is a third way…good to know!

Bria @ West of Persia January 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Interesting how there are so many ways to make the same delicious dish. I like your technique, and will try it.

My Persian Kitchen January 19, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Agreed! Especially because it is the simplest type of polow to make.

My Persian Kitchen January 19, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I don’t think you can ever go wrong with lemon zest!

Hubgry Tiger January 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

Congrats on the blog’s b-day. Zereshk polo looks mighty good! Tadig looks hidden but delish too.

My Persian Kitchen January 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

Thank you Hungry Tiger! :)

soraya January 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Hey doll! i was just watching martha stewart show and she was making persian rice. forgot what kind she made though. thought of your website right away :)

My Persian Kitchen January 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm


Kris January 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

My mother in law makes the most beautiful and delicious Zeresht on this planet….its her twist on it of course…it includes pistachio and almond slivers with the sweetened barberries and she mixes it with the rice but with saffron rice and a touch of white rice….so on the plate it looks like a Persian Masterpiece…and I am not joking !!! next time she makes it I will take a picture and post it..its too amazing to explain with words !!!

My Persian Kitchen January 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Kris, sounds delicious! Please do take a picture and share!

Kate March 17, 2010 at 6:51 am


What could u serve this dish with?

My Persian Kitchen March 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

Kate, this rice is usually served with chicken, which can either be placed in the rice layers or simply served on the side.

UmmBinat January 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Salam alaikum, This is delicious rice! I adore the barberries in this, my first time trying them!! I have made this twice now and we prefer to add some more sugar to the barberries when I serve it with your tasty Sunshine Chicken. I would like to make this again insha Allah.

Eva February 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I just wanted to tell you, THANK YOU!!!! I just made this rice for the first time, but not for the last. OMG, it’s sooo very very yummy. I could eat this almost as dessert. I adore the barberries! I also love your Sunshine chicken, although I made it with chicken kabobs…totally delicious dinner, thanks to you!

Kitty June 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Zereshk polow is my most favorite Persian dish. I don’t cook rice that much othen – i think it’s unhealthy to eat lots of rice – but when i cook any polow, it’s usually with zereshk :). I serve it with some chicken stew and think that this combination of tastes – rice, barberries, chicken stewed with vegetables – makes a beautiful symphony :) :)

mehri August 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Just wanted to thank you so much! :)

Katherine November 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm

How do you change the instructions for the cooking method if you are using a rice cooker (traditional Asian one)?

My Persian Kitchen November 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

Katherine, I would load everything in the rice cooker and just when the water is almost absorbed I’d stir the rice so that the barberries don’t just sit on top of the rice.

Rosanna April 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

I’m making this tonight. I’m new to Persian cuisine and I’m excited to learn more about it. My friend sent me some barberries, so this will be my first adventure with them! Thanks for the clear instructions.

Rosanna April 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I’m a little confused as to how much oil and water I’m supposed to use for the tahdig. Can you provide an example? Thanks!

My Persian Kitchen April 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Rosanna, you should use about 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil and a thin layer of water.

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