[gardeners] Barberry Rice....among other things:)

Ron Hay (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Tue, 06 Feb 2001 07:54:37 -0800

Hello, again, Penny,

I, personally, have not had cranberries in Persian dishes; they usually
use sour cherries, in my experience. Perhaps they use cranberries in
America, when sour cherries are not available. (An Armenian colleague is
going to tell me when the sour cherries are ripe, up in Fresno, one of
the oldest Armenian communities in the country, home of Saroyan, among

The barberries, zereshk, did come from the Middle Eastern store. Since
the meat market in my ME store is relatively small, they do not carry
gyro meat, but I am sure I could find some if I asked where the Falafel
Palace across the street from my new office obtains theirs.

Barberry Rice
3 cups of long grain basmati rice
1 frying chicken, about 3 pounds, or 2 cornish game hens
2 peeled onions, one peeled, one thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic peeled
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. saffron dissolved in 4 tbsp. of hot water
2 cups of dried barberries (zereshk)
2/3 c. clarified butter, ghee
4 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of plain yogurt (enjoy your nice, thick yogurt!)
1 tsp of Persian spice mix (rice advieh, obtainable at most ME markets),
or 1 tbsp of ground cumin seeds
2 tbsp of slivered almonds
2 tbsp of slivered pistachios (I grind whole ones)

Clean and wash 3 cups of rice 5 times in warm water. (I soak it for 3 oe
4 hours, as well, prior to washing.)

Place the whole chicken in a baking dish. Stuff the bird with one of the
whole onions, the garlic, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tsp.
saffron water. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1.5-2 hours.

Clean the barberries by removing their stems and placing the berries in
a colander. Place colander in a large container of cold water and allow
barberries to soak for 20 minutes. The sand will settle to the bottom.
Take the colander out of the container and run cold water over the
barberries; drain and set aside.

Sauté 1 sliced onion in 2 tbsp. butter (ghee), add barberries and sauté
for just one minute over low heat because barberries burn very easily.
Add 4 tbsp sugar, mix well and set aside.

Bring 8 c. water and 2 tbsp salt to a boil in a large, nonstick pot (it
is very important to use a large, nonstick pot or the rice will stick!).
Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. Boil briskly for 6-10
minutes, gently stirring twice to loosen any grains that may have stuck
to the bottom. Bite a few grains; if the rice feels soft, it is ready to
be drained. Drain rice in a large, fine meshed colander and rinse in 2-3
c. of lukewarm water.

In the same pot heat 4 tbsp butter (ghee) and 2 tbsp water.

In a bowl mix 2 spatulas of rice, the yogurt and a few drops of saffron
water and spread the mixture over the bottom of the nonstick (!) pot to
form a tender crust (tah-dig)

Place two spatulas of rice in the pot, then sprinkle 1/2 tsp Persian
rice mixture or cumin over the rice. Repeat these steps, arranging the
rice int he shape of a pyramid [or cone].This shape allows the rice to
expand and enlarge. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. [I
poke the long handle of a wooden spoon down 2-3 times, to the bottom of
the rice cone.]

Mix the remaining melted butter (ghee) and saffron water with 1/4 c.
water and pour over the pyramid. Place a clean dish towel or paper towel
over the pot; cover firmly with the lid to prevent steam from escaping.
Cook for 50 minutes or longer over low heat.

Remove pot from the heat and allow to cool, covered, for 5 minutes on a
damp surface to free crust from the bottom of the pot.

Remove lid and take out 2 tbsp of saffron flavored rice and set aside,
use for garnish.

Then, gently taking 1 spatula full of rice at a time, place rice on a
serving platter in alternating layers with the barberry mixture. Mound
the rice in the shape of a cone. Arrange the chicken around the platter.
Finally, decorate the top of the mound with the saffron flavored rice,
some of the barberry mixture, and almonds and pistachios. Enjoy!

Note: you may place the barberries in the rice and steam them together
but the color of the barberries will not be as red as when you latyre
them with the rice at the last minute.

If using fresh barberries, clean by removing the stems and rinse with
cold water.

N.B. This wonderful recipe is taken from _New Food of Life: Ancient
Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies_ by Najmieh
Batmanglij, Mage Publishers, 1998, pp. 170-171.

I don't have time this morning to look up how to make up the advieh
mixture, if you can't find it, but can do so tomorrow, if you like.

Meanwhile....it's back to "normal" rainy season weather, after having
had 90 degrees on Sunday!