Why not experience it for yourself and prepare some mouthwatering Zereshk Polo with Persian Saffron Chicken, using Tilda Pure Basmati? The fragrant saffron rice, topped with sweet and sour barberries and crunchy pistachios and almonds is a treat for all senses. Pair it with fall-off-the-bone tender chicken in a mild saffron-tomato sauce and let the party for your taste buds begin! Courtesy of Hami Sharafi.
For the Zereshk Polo
400g / 2 US cups Tilda Pure Basmati Dry Rice
2l / 8 1/2 US cups water
30g / 1/2 US cup dried barberries
2 tbsp slivered pistachios
1 tbsp slivered almonds
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp saffron
2 ice cubes
2 tbsp salt
For the Chicken
4 chicken legs, skin removed (2.2 lbs / 1 kg)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 large onion
475ml / 2 US cups boiled water
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp saffron
Salt to taste
- Bloom the saffron for the rice
- Grind the saffron threads using pestle and mortar. Alternatively, you can use the bottom of a glass and crush the saffron threads on a plate. Transfer the ice cubes into a glass. Sprinkle the ground saffron for the rice over the ice cubes. Set it aside in a warm place. This will allow the melting ice cubes to absorb the maximum amount of colour and flavour of the saffron, giving the Tilda Pure Basmati a bright yellow colour.
- Prepare the chicken
- Heat a frying pan and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the chicken legs in the pan. Turn them after a few minutes using kitchen tongues and let the other sides brown for a further couple of minutes.
- Peel and quarter the onion. Transfer what is left of the vegetable oil, that you used to brown the chicken into the pot you want to stew the chicken in. Let it heat up to medium temperature and add the onion quarters to it. Sauté them for a few minutes, then add the tomato paste, turmeric and black pepper. Stir the paste for a few seconds, then add the freshly boiled water. Stir until well combined.
- Add the ground saffron and salt to taste, give it a quick stir and place the chicken legs in the sauce, top side down. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the temperature to low/medium and put on the lid. Let the chicken simmer gently while you prepare the rice.
- Parboil the rice
- Boil the water in a pot, together with 2 tbsp of salt. Then pour in the rice. The temperature of the water will drop. Bring it back to boiling as soon as possible. Let the Tilda Pure Basmati parboil for 4 minutes, then drain it in a colander and rinse it with cool water. This will wash off any excess salt and interrupt the cooking process.
- Put a non-stick pot over medium heat and add 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Swirl the pot to distribute it evenly. Transfer the parboiled rice into the pot in a heap shape and poke three holes in it using the back of a wooden spoon. This helps the rice cook evenly. Don’t add any water. The moisture in the rice corns is enough to steam it, resulting in amazingly fluffy rice.
- Once you see steam rising from the pot cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel, which will absorb the steam. Firmly close the lid, reduce the temperature to low and let the Tilda Pure Basmati steam for 45 minutes without opening the lid.
- Turn the chicken
- Turn the chicken legs in the sauce, allowing them to cook evenly.
- Caramelise the barberries
- Rinse the dried barberries in a sieve and let them drain dry. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a small pan over low to medium heat. Add the barberries and sugar to it and stir swiftly for about a minute. Remove them from the pan and set them aside for later.
- Arrange the rice
- Once the rice has steamed, transfer a quarter of it into a bowl and add the saffron water, that has by now melted. Carefully combine both until the rice is evenly yellow.
- Transfer the remaining rice to a serving plate. In the bottom of the pot you will find some mouth-watering tahdig, the crispy part of the rice that Iranians fight over. You can serve it separately.
- Arrange the yellow rice on top of the white rice. Decorate the fluffy, aromatic Tilda Pure Basmati with the caramelised barberries, pistachios and almonds.
- Serve and enjoy
- The saffron chicken is cooked to perfection by now. If the sauce is too watery simply let it simmer without lid for a couple of minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove the onions and serve the Saffron Chicken with its sauce and the Zereshk Polo. Enjoy!