zereshk polo

Shahram Kyani’s Zereshk Polo Recipe

Are you looking for Persian food recipes? Do you know Zereshk Polo is one of the recipes loved by people worldwide, especially by Persian food lovers? A real crowd pleaser! It is also the most wanted and most served dish on almost every occasion in Iran. Moreover, it is served as the main course in social gatherings that range from parties to wedding events.

Zereshk Polo is a Persian heavenly dish made with three major components:

  • Zereshk (barberries)
  • Chicken
  • Long grained Basmati Rice

If you want to have your friends at your home over the weekend, this is a perfect dish to make your evening memorable. It turns out good when you cook it in large quantities.

Don’t you know how to prepare Zereshk Polo at home? Let’s make it easy for you. Here you’ll learn how to cook Delicious Zereshk Polo at home. Before looking into the ingredients and recipe instructions, let’s look into some benefits of Zereshk Polo.

Zereshk polo recipe

Health Benefits of Zereshk Polo:

Zereshk Polo is a healthy, gluten-free food full of nutrients and energy. Also, it has high protein content as the chicken is a major component. Red barberries have numerous health benefits. They are used to treat various diseases related to liver, gallbladder, digestive issues, urinary tract diseases, and gallstones. Additionally, Barberries are rich in vitamin C, so it can also help you improve your immunity, especially in these pandemic days. Red tart Barberries also act as an excellent anti-aging agent.

Items that pair well with Zereshk Polo

It is usually served with :

  • A soup (Soup é Morgh é Zaferani, Soup é Jo)
  • Salad Shirazi or mast o khiar (Persian yogurt and cucumber) 
  • Torshi (Persian pickle)
  • Simple Yogurt
  • Khoresh (Persian stew dishes)

The specialty of this goodness is that every rice grain is perfectly separate and fluffy, finely mixed with barberries, chicken without getting sticky or extra dry. Believe me, it’s a treat for your tastebuds.

Zereshk Polo Recipe

A unique combo and tender and juicy chicken with sparkling beautiful barberries set against the white fluffy rice grains with golden hues of saffron

Zereshk Polo is a simple yet tasty dish. In addition, you can easily prepare it with ingredients from your pantry. Let’s cook this super delicious dish easily and quickly.


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 500 grams of chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 large ripe tomato grated
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • ¾ cup dried barberries
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp slivered pistachios (Optional)


  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • 4 tbsp bloomed saffron
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp salt for chicken
  • 3 tbsp salt for cooking rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for marinating chicken
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil


Here I will outline the step by step recipe instructions so that you will be able to create this dish from scratch.

  1. Wash the rice thoroughly and soak them well before you start cooking. The more time you soak the rice, the fluffier they would be.
  2. Barberries usually are in dried form, so wash and soak them in cold water before cooking.  
  3. Soak the pistachios in water or preferably rosewater before you start the recipe.
  4. Marinate chicken pieces with ½ tsp turmeric powder, ¼ tsp red chili powder, ¼ tsp cumin powder, a pinch of cardamom powder, ¼ tsp black pepper powder, salt, and 1 tbsp. Olive oil. In short, mix everything well and marinate for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat the cooking oil in a wok—Fry/sear chicken pieces on one side for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Then change the side of the chicken pieces and fry it until you get nice golden-brown color. Remove chicken from the pan.
  6. In the same pan, add onion and minced garlic in the oil and sauté them until soft and translucent.
  7.  Then add remaining spices and grated tomato puree. Keep stirring and cook the mixture for 5 minutes.
  8. Now it’s time to add the fried chicken pieces to this mixture.
  9. Add 2 tbsp. of saffron water along with 1 cup of chicken stock. Stir well, cover, and cook the chicken until it is fully cooked and the gravy gets thick.
  10. Add butter in a wok and rinsed barberries, and sauté them.
  11. Add 2 tsp of liquid saffron and sugar to balance the tangy taste of barberries. Then mix well and stir over low flame for 1,2 minutes keeping in mind they don’t get burnt, and their beautiful shinning reddish color is maintained.
  12. In a large pan, boil approximately 4 liters of water over a medium-high flame. Add soaked rice and 2 tbsp. of salt, cook for 8-9 minutes, or till the rice is almost cooked but not fully cooked. The tip to check the rice is to pick one grain and break it in half. It should be hard in the center but soft on the outside.
  13. Then pour the rice into a colander and rinse with cold water a few times.
  14. Add 2 tbsp. of oil or butter in a non-stick pan. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, then place potato slices or Lavash naan or pitta at the bottom.  Pour the rice back into the pot but don’t make it a flat layer but build the shape of a pyramid and release the steam; make 3,4 holes with a fork.
  15. Cook the rice for 7-8 minutes, then add ¼ cup water over the rice, cover, and steam the rice over low heat for 50-60 minutes.
  16. Take a small part of rice (4-5 tbsp. of cooked rice) from the top in a bowl, mix it with remaining bloomed saffron, and stir gently to coat. Keep them aside.
  17. Now, it’s time to cheer up your taste buds.
  18. In a large serving dish, spread the cooked aromatic Persian rice, top it with saffron rice, and then put a fried barberries layer.
  19. Then, add the chicken pieces on the top and serve the gravy on the side.
  20. You can garnish it with some sliced almonds, cashew nuts, and pistachios. You can also use Rose petals for garnishing, but it’s totally your choice.

Replacing Ingredients in the Recipe

If you don’t like chicken, you can also replace it with lamb or beef.

In case you don’t like tomatoey flavor, you can use a small quantity of saffron instead of adding the flavor.

If red barberries are not available in your pantry, you can add black barberries i.e., another species of Zereshk.

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