saffron rice and chicken

Saffron Rice (Barberry) with Chicken

saffron rice is a popular dish among all Iranian people.Tourists will become a fan of saffron barberry rice with chicken, once they try it. Saffron additive provides great tastes and adorable aroma, making it an hard to resist. The below recipe is prepared by, Shahrzad Zardoost, an amazing Iranian chef, who serves for classic events in Switzerland.


Saffron Rice

saffron chicken
  • 5/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup dried barberries (zereshk)
  • 2 tbsp slivered pistachios or almonds
  • 1 big potato or 3 baby potatoes (optional / if you want to make potato tahdig)
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp salt + extra to taste


For the Chicken:

  • 1kg chicken breasts or chicken legs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (55g)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups water (470 ml)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Saffron Rice (Barberry) with Chicken-Step by Step Method!

 Prepare the chicken

1. Heat a frying pan and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot carefully place the chicken legs or breasts in the pan. Turn them after a few minutes using kitchen tongues and let the other sides brown for a further couple of minutes. 

2. Peel and quarter the onion. Transfer what is left of the vegetable oil you used to brown the chicken into the pot you want to stew the chicken in. Let it heat up to medium temperature and add the onion quarters to it. Sauté them for a few minutes, then add the tomato paste, turmeric, and black pepper. Stir the paste for a few seconds, then add the freshly boiled water. Stir until well combined. 

 3. Add salt to taste, give it a quick stir and place the chicken legs in the sauce, top side down. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the temperature to low/medium and put it on the lid. Let the chicken simmer gently while you prepare the rice. 

 Bloom the saffron for the rice

saffron rice

1. Grind the saffron threads using pestle and mortar. Transfer the ice cubes into a glass. Sprinkle the ground saffron for the rice over the ice cubes. Set it aside in a warm place. This will allow the melting ice cubes to absorb the maximum amount of color and flavor of the saffron, giving the rice a bright yellow color.

2. From time to time, Turn the chicken legs or breasts in the sauce, allowing them to cook evenly. 

Parboil the rice

1. Wash the rice by moving it around in a bowl of water, draining the water, adding freshwater, and repeating this process a couple of times. 

2. Boil the water in a pot, together with 2 tbsp of salt. Then pour in the rice. The temperature of the water will drop. Bring it back to boiling as soon as possible. Let the rice parboil for 4 minutes, then drain it in a colander and rinse it with cool water. This will wash off any excess salt and interrupt the cooking process. 

3. Put a non-stick pot over medium heat and add 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Swirl the pot to distribute it evenly. Transfer the parboiled rice into the pot in a heap shape and poke three holes in it using the back of a wooden spoon. This helps the rice cook evenly. Don’t add any water. The moisture in the rice corns is enough to steam it, resulting in amazingly fluffy rice.  

4. Once you see steam rising from the pot, cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel, which will absorb the steam. Firmly close the lid, reduce the temperature to low, and let the rice steam for 45 minutes without opening the lid. 

 Caramelize the barberries

1. Rinse the dried barberries in a sieve and let them drain dry. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a small pan over low to medium heat. Add the barberries and sugar to it and stir swiftly for about a minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the slivered pistachios or almonds to them and set them aside for later. 

 Arrange the saffron rice

Saffron Barberry Rice with Chicken

1. Once the rice has steamed, transfer half of it into a bowl and add the saffron water that has by now melted. Carefully combine both until the rice is evenly yellow. 

 2. Transfer the other half of the rice to a serving plate. In the bottom of the pot, you will find some mouth-watering tahdig, the crispy part of the rice that Iranians fight over. You can serve it separately. 

3. Arrange the yellow rice on top of the white rice. Decorate the rice with caramelized barberries, pistachios, and almonds. Serve and enjoy

– The chicken is cooked to perfection by now. If the sauce is too watery simply let it simmer without the

lid for a couple of minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove the onions and serve the Saffron Chicken with its sauce and the Zereshk Polo. 

– Now, you can serve your Zereshk Polo with the chicken and sauce. You can serve some yogurt with it, too. Enjoy!

“Special Thanks to Shahrzad Zardoost, the owner of Ardineh

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3 thoughts on “Saffron Rice (Barberry) with Chicken

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