Saturday, 4 May 2013

Albaloo Polo - آلبالو پلو - Morello Cherry and Saffron Pilaf

Albaloo (آلبالو , morello cherry) with it's deep crimson red colour and full acidity is a dream fruit.  A perfect summer fruit that can be used in various ways from baking to cooking, sadly, it is not available fresh in my corner of the world.  It is imported in glass jars and it is the only form I have seen this fruit in years. The most exciting way of eating it is with plenty of salt to cut through the acid and yes, you've guessed it, it is tart! It's fascinating how Persians can have extremely sweet tooth and sour tooth. The dried form is a very popular snack during winter.

We've been making morello cherry jam every summer for as long as I can remember and now trying to recreate the same jam, we have no option but to turn preserved cherries into jam! I remember the days mum bought these sour cherries for jam making, I was extra helpful in removing the stalks and pitting them.  These cherries are very juicy and the fun was in eating them and staining my hands and face.  I also used my many creative ways of sneaking into the kitchen and taking handfuls of sour cherries without her noticing. Every time mum made cherry jam, she used to reserve the extra syrup in glass bottles which we made into sherbet.

The tart cherries in cooking goes very well with chicken so, a colourful pilaf and lemon chicken was on the menu last weekend. Although I don't remember eating this pilaf years ago but this pilaf similar to a good cake with perfect icing makes me feel happy and best of all it is as simple as it can get. This fruity pilaf is prepared very much like jewelled rice. We had no choice but to use preserved cherries but if you are fortunate enough to have a supply of fresh morello cherries then the possibilities are endless for you.


1 Jar, preserved morello cherries
2-4 Tablespoons, sugar
3-4 Tablespoons, slivered almonds, roasted
3-4 Teaspoons, dissolved saffron


  1. Drain the cherries and place in a frying pan.  Add the sugar and allow to reduce on low heat.
  2. Cook until the cherries are softened and the juice turns into a thick syrup (about 10 minutes).
  3. Follow the recipe for Chelo
  4. Once the rice has been drained, mix half of the rice with cooked cherries and the other half with saffron.
  5. Layer the rice in a pot to steam and follow the rest of the instructions. 
  6. You can alternatively mix the cooked cherries with cooked rice (shown in the photo).
  7. If you are using fresh cherries, remember to add more sugar and cook it longer.