Barberry Rice With Saffron Chicken (Zereshk Polo)

Growing up in a Persian household, your diet mainly consists of chicken and rice - a bodybuilders diet. One of my all-time favorite dishes is Barberry Rice with Saffron Chicken also known as Zereshk Polo. If you’re looking for a new, delicious, and savory healthy meal prep idea, Zereshk Polo will quickly become one of your favorite meals.

What Are Barberries

Barberries are really what make Zereshk Polo so authentic and delicious. Along with the saffron that is. Barberries are a tart red berry, that is native to middle east. They contain several beneficial compounds, most notably berberine, which acts as a powerful antioxidant. 

What Is Saffron

Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a middle eastern spice. Saffron and its main constituents crocin and crocetin, are natural carotenoids, which have been reported to possess a wide spectrum of properties, inducing anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and neuroprotective effects. Saffron adds a great taste, and provides the yellowish color to the rice and chicken from the carotenoids. 

Zereshk Polo Recipe 

Unlike ordinary chicken and rice, Zereshk Polo does take a bit more time and effort. Some of the ingredients such as the barberries, may also be hard to find at your local grocer, however you can order them here. Zereshk polo is one of the most satisfying dishes and adds a delicious twist and more variety to your weekly meal prep.


  • 1.5 cups of Basmati Rice
  • 2 lbs diced chicken
  • ½ cup barberries
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron, ground with a mortar and pestle
  • ¼ cup of Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ diced onion
  • ¼ cup carrots
  • ¼ cup blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
  • ¼ cup orange peel
  • 7 tbsp salt


How To Make The Rice

  • Put rice in bowl of cold water, soak, wash and rinse thoroughly to strain the starch. Repeat until the water runs clear.
  • Fill a pot with 3 quarts of water or a 1/3 full. Add 1 tbsp salt and olive oil and bring water to a boil. Drain rice and add to the pot stirring in slowly. Bring back to a gentle boil, uncovered, until the rice has a line in the grain 20-30 minutes medium heat.
  • Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water gently until water is completely strained.
  • Put 4 tablespoon olive or avocado oil back in pot, and place rice slowly back into the pot. Add two tablespoon salt and slowly stir. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes at medium/low heat.
  • You will create a layer of crispy rice (tahdig) on the bottom of the pot, which can be used to mix in with your rice. It’s delicious.

How To Make The Barberries 

  • Wash and rinse barberries. Soak for 20 minutes and strain with small strainer.
  • Add barberries to pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Combine blanched almonds, carrots, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, onion, and rose water to pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, then set aside.

How To Make Saffron Chicken

  • Dice 2lbs of chicken breast into small cubes.
  • Place ¼ saffron into mortar and pestle, and ground finely. Add to small dish with a small amount of warm water and set aside.
  • Cook chicken in pan, add 2-3 tbsp olive or avocado oil, for 15-20 minutes. Add ½ of saffron to the chicken, and add the rest on top of your rice.

Zereshk Polo: Takeaway 

If you're looking for a delicious dish to add some more variety to your meal prep, Zereshk Polo is a must. Although this recipe takes a bit longer and has a few more ingredients than just the standard chicken and rice, the added elements are worth it. 

Need Help With Optimizing Your Diet And Nutrition Plan To Finally Get The Results You've Been Waiting For?

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