Zereshk polo is one of the most famous and fanciest dishes in Persian cuisine. It is a wonderful dance of both sweet and sour. The use of saffron, barberry and pistachio gives the rice an wonderful aroma and mouthwatering appearance. This simple yet delicious food is loved by all Iranians — and of course all other nationalities once they have tasted it. Experience it yourself.

Difficulty level 4 (out of 10)
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
Servings 2 to 4
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4½ cups water (enough to cover the rice in the cooking pan — up to ½ inch above the rice)
  • ¼ cup butter or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (sunflower oil or olive oil)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (kosher) salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground saffron
  • ¾ cup barberries
  • ½ cup chopped pistachio sticks
  • ¼ cup rose water, optional
  1. Rinse the rice in a bowl and drain the water. Repeat this step at least a couple of times under cold water until the water runs clean. This will help you get rid of the excess starch.
    Add cold water to the bowl together with the salt, stir and set it aside for about an hour.
  2. While the rice is soaking, wash and rinse both the barberries and chopped pistachio sticks (separately) a few times and drain the water. Then soak the chopped pistachio sticks in rose water (optional).
  3. Take a baking pan, heat it with butter or vegetable oil and add both the barberries and (the drained) chopped pistachio sticks to the pan. Stir constantly over medium to low heat for about 5 to 7 minutes and add sugar to balance the sour tase of the barberries.
    Turn the heat off and put the pan aside from the heat.
  4. Pour the cups of water into a cooking pan and bring it to boil. Then add the rinsed rice to the boiling water and have it cooked for about 10 to 15 minutes.
    Then drain the rice in a colander and rinse it a few times with cold water.
  5. Put the rinsed rice in a cooking pan together with some butter or vegetable oil, cover the pan and steam the rice on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
    Turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Take a small part of the steamed rice and mix it with the ground saffron and set it aside.
  7. Serve the steamed white rice on one or more plates topped with some saffron rice along with some barberries and chopped pistachio sticks.
  • Enjoy the dish, or as the Persians say: Nooshe jân.