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Persian Cuisine: Part 1-Zereshk Polo O Morgh

Mini Series on Persian Cuisine: PART 1 - Zereshk Polo O Morgh (Barberry and Chicken)

I mentioned wayyyy back when that I was thinking of starting a mini series on Persian Cuisine, and finally got around to introducing it in my Eid/New- Year post.

I'm both excited and nervous about sharing Persian Cuisine with you guys and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

First a quick back story: I am an Iranian-Canadian, and proud of it! Though I consider myself to be quite Canadian (check out my Canada Day cupcakes!) I still have very strong roots to my Iranian culture. Though I may be quite  a bit bias in saying this, but Persian food is good. Like. Really. Good. Its the type of food that satisfies many palates. Unlike other cuisines that might be too spicy or too mild for some, Persian cuisine is a delicious middle. However, though I enjoy eating it, it dawned on me that I have absolutely NO CLUE on how to make any of it! So, I have asked my mom to show me, and I plan to document my learning through the blog so you guys can learn too!

I also happen to be very fortunate because I have a mother who knows how to cook. And I know many people may say, "SO?! My Mom knows how to cook too!" But no. seriously. You dont know how good you have it until you dig into what you think will be REALLYYY good food, only to find that your friend's mom just...doesn't make it as good as your mom! I guess this food obsession is genetic? ;)

Still not convinced that my mom is like the super genius of Persian food? Then take everyone else's word for it. OTHER Iranians are always commenting on how delicious my moms cooking is, and are often asking about 'her way' of making things. Her most requested recipe? This one right here. Consider this a secret family recipe. The thing that makes this go over the top is, are you ready for it? The tomato paste. Who would have thought huh?

Anyways, I thought I would kick start my mini-series on Persian Cuisine with something that is not only delicious (duh!) but relatively easy to make, fits many taste buds (I mean...its chicken) AND is a 'secret family recipe' ( which makes me giddy inside because we don't have too many of those around here).

The literal Translation of this recipe would be Zereshk (Barberry) Polo (Rice) O (and) Morgh (chicken)

Zereshk Polo O Morgh

(serves about 3)

- about 1/2 a chicken cut up into individual size pieces
- Saffron
- 2-3 tbsp Tomato Paste
- about 1 cup Water
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion


- small onion (optional)
- 1/4 cup Barberry
- Saffron
- 1 tbsp sugar


 1. chop up a medium sized onion and pour it into a medium-large sized pot 

2. Take a 'pinch' (really small amount) of saffron (make sure to use the tip of a spoon and not your fingers!) and pour it into a small bowl. Add about 2 tbsp of boiling water.

I used a 1/8 tsp measuring spoon to show you how little it is.

**TIP** Crush your saffron down to a powder using a mortar and pestle. This makes your saffron smell better and give off a stronger color

3. In a separate medium size bowl combine the following: 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste, 4 tbsp lemon juice, 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix. Add in the saffron mixture. Pour over the chicken in the pot.

4. Put the lid on and put it on low-medium heat to cook for about 40-45 min, depending on the strength of your stove top.

And thats it! your done your chicken! Now, while you are waiting for the chicken make your rice the same way you always do. Then, make the Zereshk. This is optional too, but I would suggest making it and trying it. I used to not be a fan when I was a child, but its grown on me over the years. It has a really sour (like lemoney not bitter) taste to it, and gives the dish that tiny little extra pop.

How to make the Zereshk:

1. Chop up your small onion if using and pour it into a pan and fry it up a bit.

Dice it up nice and small

2. Prepare some more saffron 'liquid' in a small bowl as you had before.

3. wash your barberries really well. Give them several rinses and pick out any stems or dirt.

Cleaning it out- pick out stems and any dirt/rocks that may be there
oohh look at my mommy's pretty ring! ;)
Use Berries while they are still moist!

4. Then, while barberries are still moist, add them to the pan and toss in the saffron.

5. Add 1 tbsp of sugar to cut back on the sourness.

** NOTE: Barberries 'bake' really fast, so only a few mixes should be enough. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER HEAT IT OR IT WILL BURN!

6. Take it off the pan and mix in some of the prepared rice into it. (about 1/2 cup)

How to arrange:

Pour some rice on to your plate. Top its of with about a spoon or two of the Zereshk you made, and top it with the chicken (and some of its juices)


Giro  – (August 21, 2010 at 9:31 AM)  

Where do you purchase the barberries in Ottawa? I'm new here (just moved to Ottawa in July) and I would really like to give this recipe a try.

Zahra  – (August 22, 2010 at 10:42 PM)  

You can purchase them from any Iranian Specialty store/groccerry store. The Two that my family goes to often in the Ottawa area are "Alpha" and "Arya" (I left a link to their address)

Ask for Barberries. If they dont understand ask for "Zereshk" (its ther Farsi word for it)

Lawyer Loves Lunch  – (August 24, 2010 at 10:29 AM)  

So, just yesterday, the hubster says, "You know it'd be so cool if you made Persian food" and I gave him a crazy look. And today I found your blog. Crazy :)
PS: Your pictures are stunning!

Zahra  – (August 25, 2010 at 11:41 AM)  

haha its funny how stuff like that works...;) I guess it was just meant to be for you to make persian food ;)

Mona  – (August 31, 2010 at 4:04 AM)  

Ah, that meal with those lovely looking berries looks absolutely delectable. The clicks are fantastic!

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