Barberries are tart, sour little berries that are used in Persian cooking.
makes 6 servings
3 cup long-grain basmati rice
1 3lbs chicken or 2 Cornish hens
2 peeled onions, both thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic
2 cups dried barberries (zereshk)
1 tbsp yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 4 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp slivered pistachios
1.Brine the chicken. If you have time, soaking chicken breasts in a solution of salt and water (3 tbsp. of salt to 4 cups of water) for an hour (if thawed; longer if frozen) before cooking will help keep the chicken juicy and tender. Since chicken doesn't have much fat in comparison to other kinds of meat, it can dry out easily, but braining allows the chicken to absorb extra moisture through osmosis before it's cooked. Fast solution - run to Costco and buy a oven broiled chicken!
2. Remove Chicken, place in pot add salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic and one of the onions and water and cook for 1 hour until ½ cup of chicken broth has been made and chicken is tender.
3. Clean the barberries by removing any visible stems and little rocks. Place the berries a small colander, place it a bowl of tepid water and let soak for ca. 10 minutes. Sand and other impurities will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Definately do this because you will find stones in there as well! Take colander out, rinse under water, drain and set aside.
4. Sauté 1 sliced onion in 2 tbsp of oil until golden brown. Add the drained barberries, sugar and 3tbps of saffron and let the mix cook over low heat for 1 minute. Be careful as barberries brown very fast. Set aside.
5. Prepare 3 cups of rice by placing it in a bowl and giving it a couple of rinses under running water. Do this as often until the water is clear.
6. Bring 8 cups of water and 2 tbsp of salt to a boil in a large non-stick pot. Pour the washed rice in the water and cook for 6 to 10 minutes on high. Remove a few grains and bite into one. The out area of the rice should be soft with just a little dot of harder area in the center.
7. Drain rice in a colander.
8. In same pot heat 4 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp yogurt and a few drops of saffron water and pour rice in a pile over mix. This will allow the rice to expand and enlarge. Some people add the barberry mix in layers to the rice, I like to add it at the end. Place a clean dish towel or paper towel over rim and cover firmly with a lid. Let rice cook on low for 50 minutes.
9. Once rice is soft and full cooked, remove 1 spatula of rice at a time and place on a large serving dish. Sprinkle with barberry mix and repeat until all the rice has been mixed with the barberries. I add my barberries at the end, because they retain their rich color this way. Arrange cooked chicken around platter and garnish with pistachios.