Zereshk Polo (Persian Rice with Barberry)

Zeresk Polo (Persian Rice with Barberries)

“Zereshk” are barberries in Persian. Barberries are tiny, red, tart fruit. They add a hint of sweet and sour to the recipe. They are also rich in vitamin C. You can find them at Persian or Afghan stores.

Zereshk Polo is traditionally a Persian rice dish made with chicken and barberries. We have removed the chicken and tried it with soy protein alternatives and jackfruit!

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Zereshk Polo (Persian Rice with Barberry)

  • Author: Plant-Based Persian
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 6 people 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A saffron with barberry Persian rice dish


Units Scale
  • 8 oz package plant-based chik’n (we use the Sweet Earth Mindful Chik’n Strips)*

“Chik’n Marinade”

  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 Tbsp. plant-based yogurt (we use Kite Hill plain almond yogurt)
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Dash of cumin
  • Pinch of ground saffron
  • 1 tsp. oil

Persian Rice

  • 3 cups Basmati rice
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. oil (divided)
  • 2 Tbsp. brewed saffron (divided)
  • 1 medium potato cut into 5-6 slices (for tahdig)


  • 1/2 cup dried barberry
  • 1/4 small onion julienned

* If you prefer to use a soy alternative, you can use jackfruit instead of the plant-based chick’n. We recommend a 20 oz can jackfruit in brine (drained, washed, and dried by squeezing water out with a cheese cloth or kitchen towel). You can remove or roughly chop the harder end pieces.


  1. Combine the “Chik’n Marinade” ingredients. 
  2. Marinate the plant-based chik’n (or jackfruit) in the Chik’n Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  3. Prepare the Persian Rice
    • Wash over the rice by placing the rice in a large bowl and covering with water. Move the rice with your hand to clean the rice. Pour off the water. Repeat the process 3-4 times until the rice is clean.
    • Fill a large pot with water. Add the 2 Tbsp. salt. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Add rice to the boiling water. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
    • Drain the rice.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp. oil to bottom of rice cooker (or non-stick pot with lid). Add 1 Tbsp. brewed saffron. Add sliced potatoes in one layer (for tahdig).
  5. Add half the rice and then the marinated chik’n (or jackfruit) mixture and cover with the remaining rice.
  6. Cover and cook 50 minutes in the rice cooker (or 50 minutes in a non-stick pot on medium heat).
  7. Add 1 Tbsp. oil in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Add barberry and 1 Tbsp. brewed saffron. Sauté for 2 more minutes!
  8. When serving, garnish the rice with the sautéed barberry.
    • You may also garnish with saffron rice (as pictured). To make the saffron rice garnish, mix 3/4 cup cooked rice with 2 Tbsp. brewed saffron.
    • Prep Time: 3 hours
    • Cook Time: 60 minutes
    • Category: Main Course
    • Cuisine: Iranian/Persian

    Keywords: Vegan, Plant-Based, Persian, Iranian, Zereshk, Polo, vegetarian

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