Barberry Rice with Saffron Chicken

Prep Time:

90 minutes


4 portions


  • 4 large skinless chicken pieces – leg/thigh/breast
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 30ml bloomed saffron*
  • Salt to taste


  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 7 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 30ml bloomed saffron*
  • 3 tbsp yogurt (optional)
  • 8 tbsp melted butter, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup dried barberries
  • 2 tspn sugar
  • 50gr slivered pistachio (optional garnish)

Created By

Prepared by Polina Shadman


Cooking the Chicken

  1. Sear the chicken in some butter and a tablespoon of bloomed saffron. Once the chicken pieces are fully seared on both sides and have turned into a gorgeous
    golden color, transfer them onto a plate.
  2. Heat some oil in the pan and saute the chopped onion. Add the tomato paste and fry along with the onions for a minute.
  3. Add in the spices and mix for another minute, add in the lemon juice.
  4. Top with the chicken pieces, add some water** (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup) and cook until the chicken is fully cooked. At this stage add in the rest of the bloomed saffron and cook for another ten minutes. This is for the saffron to blend into the dish. After ten minutes, the golden chicken is ready to serve with your side dish of choice traditionally served with Barberry Rice.

*Blooming the Saffron: use 1/ 4tsp of ground saffron threads, put in a cup, and add either 1 ice cube to melt or 30ml of hot water
**If you like more broth, you can add a bit more water – it is a matter of preference – but make sure you don’t add too much water because you don’t want a soupy broth.

Cooking the Rice

  1. Rinse rice with cold water, repeat 3 times. Soak rice in cold water for 2-6 hours.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water & 1/8 cup of salt, to a boil. Drain the soaking rice and add to the boiling pot. Bring back to a gentle boil & cook rice until al-dente (5-10min) depending on the quality of the rice. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse quickly
    under cold water.
  3. Add the yogurt to a medium bowl, and add 1/2 tbsp. bloomed saffron. Stir in 2 cups of the drained rice, and set aside. Make a mixture of 2 tbsp. melted butter with 2 tbsp of hot water and set aside.
  4. Place a wide dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 3 tbsp. melted butter, swirling it around to cover the bottom of the pot and up sides.
  5. Spread the rice-yogurt mixture evenly across the bottom of the pot. This will be the tahdig (crispy rice) layer. Spoon in the remaining rice over the tahdig layer. Drizzle
  6. butter-hot water mixture over rice.
  7. Set the pot lid on a large clean kitchen towel, fold the edges of the towel up over the lid, and cover the pot with the lid. Cook over low -medium heat and cook until the rice is tender and the tahdig is golden and crisp (45-60 minutes.)
  8. Meanwhile, rinse barberries and soak them in some cold water to rehydrate.
  9. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add drained barberries and stir for a couple of minutes, then add 1/2 tbsp. saffron liquid. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in sugar & pistachios, stir and remove from heat.
  10. Toss 1 cup of cooked rice, and 1/3 cup of barberry mix with 2tbs melted butter and 1tbsp of saffron liquid.
  11. Gently spoon about 1 cup of cooked rice (without disturbing tahdig) and arrange it on a platter. Scatter 2 tbsp. berries mix then add more rice. Repeat the steps. Top with barberries mix.
  12. Using a rubber spatula, gently lift out tahdig, break it into pieces, and place it around the edges of the rice.


Created By

Prepared by Polina Shadman