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.