Barberry rice with Crispy Base

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

I confess, I can't get enough of Tahdig or the lovely sweet and sour barberries that come with this famous rice called Zereshk Polo.

This rice is one of the top dishes that is probably made when you want to play it safe and make it for friends that have never tasted Iranian food before.

Traditionally accompanied with either a chicken stew or other chicken dish.


For the rice

2 1/2 cups of good white rice

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tbsp salt

tbsp oil (vegetable oil)

1 tsp butter

1/4 tsp ground saffron (this is for your diluted saffron)

For the Tahdig

1 medium sized egg yolk

1 tbsp plain yogurt

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 garlic glove crushed

2 tbsp diluted saffron

For the garnish

1 cup dry barberry (washed thoroughly to remove grit)

1 tbsp white granulated sugar

1 tbsp diluted saffron

1 tsp pistachio slivers (you can add more if you prefer)

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.

The Rice (drained and steamed)

Step 1

  • Place 2 1/2 cups of rice in a medium to large sized non stick cooking pot.

  • Wash the rice about 2 to 3 times under cold water to clean, draining the water each time.

  • Fill the pot half way with cold water and mix 1/2 a tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of oil.

Note: This technique of cooking your rice will allow the salt to bring out the flavour of the rice, the lemon to make it whiter and the oil to prevent it from sticking together.

Place the pot on a high heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the water starts to boil and the rice becomes par cooked.

Step 2

  • Remove the pot from the heat and drain the water using a colander.

  • Place 4 tbsp of oil in the pot and ensure the oil spreads all round the pot.

  • Place back on the heat.

Step 3

  • In a separate bowl break 1 egg and just add the yolk

  • Add the black pepper, salt and crushed garlic

  • Add 2 tbsp of the diluted saffron

  • Add tbsp of plain yogurt

  • Add 1 cup of the par boiled rice and gently mix into the egg yolk and yogurt mixture

  • Layer into the pan

This technique will give you the crispy base Iranians love, called Tahdig!

Step 4

  • Take the rest of the par boiled rice and gently layer it in the pot over the rest of the rice.

  • Finally use the rest of the diluted saffron to pour over the top layer of your rice.

  • Take a tsp of butter and place on top of the rice in the centre.

  • Cover the top of the pot and allow the rice to steam gradually on a low heat for 30 minutes or until the  rice is cooked and comes apart without sticking together.

Serving suggestion one for your rice:

When removing the rice from the pot to serve, use a fork to gently pick at the rice, this will help release the rice and make it easier to place on a dish with a bigger utensil.

Once all your rice is in a separate serving dish use a wooden spatula to dislodge the Tahdig. If you’re lucky and have used enough oil then the Tahdig should come away easily and not break up.

You can either place it on a separate dish or by the side of the rice  and garnish the barberries over the rice. (Read The Barberry Garnish further down)

Serving suggestion two for your rice:

For the brave hearted you can place a large enough plate on top of your pot and quickly but please, please very carefully, as you could get burnt badly doing this, and with no one around to nudge or distract you! flip the pot upside down onto the large plate.

The plate needs to be large enough to cover both the top of the pot and give you enough space for the rice to flip on.

Hopefully if successful your rice and Tahdig will be intact as shown in the picture above.

Follow the details below if you would like to garnish your rice and Tahdig with barberries!

The Barberry Garnish

  • Wash the barberries thoroughly to remove any grit.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan.

  • Empty the barberries in the pan and fry over a medium heat stirring gently for 2 minutes.

  • Add 1 tbsp granulated sugar to the barberries and stir for another 30 seconds or until the sugar has melted into the barberries.

  • Add 1tbsp diluted saffron and stir for 30 seconds

  • Remove from the heat.

  • Garnish either as shown in the picture above or as preferred.

Happy eating :)

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