Chicken Stew with Barberries

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

Chicken stew with barberries is another favourite of mine, most probably because it goes best with Zereshk Polo , the Barberry rice with the crispy base called Tahdig.

This stew has an intense rich flavour from the chicken and the tomato base, balanced well with the subtle hints of cinnamon and saffron.

Definitely one to make when friends come round.

For the Barberry rice with crispy base (Tahdig) which is usually made with this stew have a look at go to Barberry rice with Crispy Base.

This recipe is enough for 4 to 6 servings


6 pieces of chicken thigh

1 1/2 tbsp of tomato purée

1 medium to large onion

oil (I’ve used vegetable oil)

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of ground saffron

2 cloves garlic

1 lemon

1 tbsp diluted saffron

1 tsp finely chopped pistachio or pistachio slivers

1 tsp white granulated sugar

1/2 cup barberries (washed)


For chicken stew:

Step 1

  • Place 4 tbsp of oil in a deep cooking pot on medium heat.

  • Dice the onion into small pieces and fry till golden brown.

  • Add the turmeric and stir well to fry with the onion for 30 seconds.

  • Reduce the heat. If your onions have slightly over fried then remove pot from heat so they don’t burn.

  • Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, cinnamon and saffron and stir vigorously over medium heat so that all the spices are mixed well with the puree and onions.

  • Add half a cup of boiling water to your purée paste.

Step 2

  • Add the chicken pieces skin side down towards the bottom of the pot, this technique will give the chicken a golden caramelised tinge to it.

  • Place the top of the pot and turn up the heat to high for 2 minutes.

  • Reduce the heat, remove the top and flip the chicken pieces to see if the skin has turned a golden brown colour. If not, flip them back and replace the lid, raise the heat and give it another minute or so.

Step 3

  • Once the chicken has turned a nice golden brown reduce the heat and add 1/2 a pint of boiling water to the pot.

  • Peel the garlic and put 1 1/2 pieces of roughly chopped garlic into the pot.

  • Crush the other half and add to the stew and gently stir the contents.

  • Add 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp diluted saffron.

Diluted Saffron

  • Add 1/4 tsp of ground saffron into a small teacup and fill half with boiling water.

  • Let the saffron rest for 5 to 10 mins. The longer the saffron rests the darker, richer and intense the colour.

Step 4

  • Place the top back on and increase the heat to high for about 5 minutes.

  • After 5 minutes reduce the heat to medium / low and let the stew simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Note: Ensure you keep checking the stew so that the sauce does not reduce too much. After 45 minutes check the taste of the stew to ensure you’ve put enough salt and pepper to taste.

For the Barberry & Pistachio garnish:

Step 1

  • Wash the barberries.

  • Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a saucepan and place on medium heat.

  • Put the washed Barberries in the saucepan.

  • Add a teaspoon of granulated sugar and fry for 1 minute or until the sugar has melted into the barberries.

Step 2

  • Remove from the heat.

  • Once you’ve placed the chicken stew on a serving dish sprinkle the barberries over it followed by the pistachios.

Please note: In the picture above I've removed the chicken from the stew for the sake of a good pic :) but this is definitely a stew.

Happy eating :)

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