Zereshk polo, aka Barberry Rice or Jeweled Rice

Have you ever had this dish? When T and I lived in Virginia, we often got this from a local kebab place which is, sadly, now closed. Mamma mia, it was good: moist rice with barberries, nuts, flavors out the wazoo. I’ve been looking for a recipe since, asking any and all Iranians I encounter if they have one, can teach me to make Zereshk polo, or even just tell me where to find barberries (zereshk).

About six months ago, my friend, Caroline, sent me to her frame shop as I was on the hunt for a good one. The proprietor’s name is Kiu Kavousi, and he is the nicest man! Kavousi sounded Persian to me, so I asked if he hailed from Iran. Yes! he enthusiastically exclaimed, how did you know? Well -you might be able to see where this is headed- I asked him about zereshk and a recipe. As it turns out, he is the main cook in his family and of course knew all about making zereshk, had barberries and agreed to share his recipe.

When I picked up my framed portraits, he didn’t mention anything, and I was disappointed, feeling I’d hit another dead end. Fast forward to today, and I picked up a newly framed photograph (I am thrilled to be the new owner of a Nick Brandt elephant photo -do y’all recall my post about the astounding beauty of his Africa pics?), and Kiu asked, “are you the one who inquired about the zereshk recipe?” Wow! He had brought a recipe, barberries AND some of his precious saffron. I was so touched, terribly excited and immediately told him that I would make and write about his polo. In his dear voice with his eyes a’twinkle, he said “aah, I just watched Julie and Julia last night; this is like that.” Delightful!

This weekend I will commence with Zereshk making!!

My Elephant: