Zerehk polo is an elegant rice dish and it is a true melting pot for humble ingredients, with their bold and bright colours, to naturally unite to form a dish that is not just rice. There are plenty of accompanying ingredients used in creating a comforting rice dish but, zereshk polo with it's simplicity and minimal ingredients has a class of it's own. It certainly is a celebration of flavours with rice serving as a neutral backdrop for the tart jewel-like berries to complement the sweetness of saffron. It is no wonder that it is usually served for elaborate dinner parties and special occasions.
Zerezhk is usually sweetened with sugar and fried in butter, but do not be afraid to step away from this traditional method. We make it without sugar and fry in cooking oil or olive oil. To refresh your mind about cooking rice follow our recipe for Chelo! You should be able to find saffron in almost every supermarket. Zereshk is available from Persian or other ethnicity shops. Making this rice is very much free form and no recipe is needed. Simply adjust the portions of each ingredient to suit your own taste. However, a great zereshk polo has generous amounts of saffron and zereshk.
It can be done by placing a little oil in a fry pan and once heated add zereshk. Stir until zereshk is plumped up and add desired amount of sugar. Add dissolved saffron once the sugar is dissolved and mix with a little cooked rice. This should only take a few minutes.
There are two ways that you can make zereshk polo. One method is by mixing as explained above and the other is below:
- Follow the recipe for Rice - Chelo and parboil the rice.
- Heat a non-stick or heavy-based pot. Add enough oil to cover the base. Pour little rice mixed with saffron into the pot and spread to cover the base.
- Half the remaining rice. Mix one half with cooked zereshk and 2 teaspoon dissolved saffron.
- Place a layer of plain rice in the pot followed by a layer of mixed zereshk saffron rice. continue layering until its finished.
- Use the end of a wooden spoon and lightly push it few times into the rice, about 2-3 cm deep to make wells to trap steam. Cover the inside of the lid with a tea towel or two layers of paper towel. Place the lid on firmly.
- Cook for further 30 minutes on low heat.
- Remove the lid, put a serving platter on the top of the pot and turn the pot upside down to remove the rice completely into the platter or spoon the rice out carefully not to disturb the tah-deeg, then break the tah-deeg and arrange it around the rice or in a separate plate. Serve with roasted or grilled chicken or meat, and accompanied by salad or Maast-O-Khiar!
Zereshk Polo made with mixing rice with sauteed berries