Introducing the first in our Takeover Series with Free to Feed. Tayebeh is an incredible cooking instructor at Free to Feed, and she is taking us through a traditional dish she learnt from her mother growing up in Iran.
'The name of the dish is Zereshk Polo ba Morgh it’s barberry rice with chicken and it’s traditional in my side of Iran and my mother taught me to do it. My favourite ingredient in this dish is saffron, it brings me so many memories from my country... I love cooking because it makes me feel good about my family, my culture and my country'.
We are SO grateful for Tayebeh sharing this recipe, we know you are going to love it!
From the pantry or the Hagen's Veggie Box:
4 cups golden “sela” basmati rice**
1 large potato
1 cup barberries, washed
½ cup sliced pistachio
1 teaspoon sugar
1 brown onion
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cardamom
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper
A big pinch Saffron
Small dash of rose water
100ml vegetable oil
*Due to Covid19 purchasing restrictions, customers are limited to 500g of poultry per purchase. We apologise for any inconvenience.
**This is Tayebehs preferred rice but if you are unable to source this then basmati rice is an acceptable substitute - she likes sela because of the longer grains and tendency not to stick together.
To cook the rice:
1. Wash the rice 3 times in cold water, then place in a bowl and cover with cold water, add 1 ½ tablespoons salt and soak for 2 - 3 hours ( if you don't have time, then wash and soak the rice in boiling water for 30 minutes- don't forget to add the salt. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to the boil, add a tablespoon of salt. When boiling add the drained rice, cook for about 7-10 minutes, until the rice is par-cooked (it will still be hard in the centre). Drain in a colander.
2. Peel the potato and slice into 4mm thick slices. Using a non-stick pan, place over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and place the slices of potato so they cover the bottom of the pot. (this creates a tahdig - a deliciously crispy crust that you are sure to fight over!)
3. Add the par-cooked rice, heaping in the middle to form a slight dome shape. Using the handle of a spoon, create holes in the rice. (this allows the steam to rise and help create fluffy rice). Reduce heat, cover with a lid wrapped in a clean tea towel (this captures the condensation and stops it from dripping back into the rice). Leave for 25 mins or until the rice is fully cooked.
To bloom the saffron :
1. Combine saffron with a pinch of sugar. Using a mortar & pestle grind the saffron and sugar until you have a fine powder. Add an ice cube and allow the ice cube to melt (Tayebeh prefers to bloom saffron with ice as opposed to boiling water because the resulting colour is more intense)
Cooking the chicken and sauce:
1. Wash chicken breasts and fillets in cold water and pat dry. Peel & chop the onion into a fine dice. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan, add the onion, then the chicken. Let cook for a few minutes over medium heat adding salt. Sprinkle the turmeric over the chicken and cook for a further few minutes. Turn the chicken pieces and onion until the chicken is golden brown ( add some more oil if the chicken or onion is catching) Add 2 cups of water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until simmering.
2. In a separate fry pan, add a tablespoon of oil with the tomato paste and fry for two minutes over a low heat this is to develop the colour and flavour of tomato paste. Add ground cardamom & rose water and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice.
3. Remove from heat and add tomato mixture back to the chicken, along with the cinnamon stick. Season with salt & pepper. Cover with a lid and continue to cook over medium heat for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened.
Creating the “jewels for the rice” :
1. In the meantime, over medium heat melt the butter in a frying pan.Add the washed barberries, saute for a few minutes, be careful not to burn, add the pistachios and 1 teaspoon of bloomed saffron. Remove from heat and set aside.
1. Prepare some saffron-coloured rice: Take about a cup of rice from the saucepan and place in a medium bowl. Pour over the bloomed saffron over the rice and mix well. Add a few more spoons of rice from the saucepan to the mortar & pestle. (Tayebeh uses the rice to make sure every skerrick of saffron is added to the rice!)
2. Place the remainder of the plain rice into a serving dish. Decorate with the saffron-coloured rice you just made, barberries and pistachios. Remove the tahdig from the saucepan and serve the crispy potatoes separately.
3. Serve the chicken and sauce on a separate platter and accompany with a fresh salad such as Shirazi salad (a simple salad of finely diced cucumber, tomato, white onion & dried mint with a lemon & olive oil dressing).
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