A lovely, simple Persian-inspired side dish to grace your holiday table, Persian-Inspired Pistachio Pilaf features tart zereshk (barberries), pistachios, and exotic spices in a greatly simplified version of an authentic Persian rice dish!
Don’t think of rice as a side dish around here, it can be the main event.
~~ Anthony Bourdain on Persian rice
As I mentioned in my December 15 post Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses Roasted Duck, I looked to the flavors of Persia for inspiration in planning my Christmas menu this year. Rice is elevated to a place of honor in this ancient cuisine. Zereshk and Pistachio Pilaf is not the recipe handed down from the Maadar-Bozorg (grandmother). Rather, it is a rice dish which incorporates lovely Persian flavors. Traditional rice dishes such as tah-dig and Javaher Polow require soaking and rinsing the rice prior to even starting the dish. You have to set aside 1-2 hours to prepare these dishes. They’re lovely, and totally worth the effort. 🙂 I’ve done it! However…
Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.
~~ Carl Sandburg
I want to enjoy the flavors of Persia. I don’t always have time to cook a traditional, authentic Persian rice dish. I came across zereshk in my local (amazing) HEB market. I had no idea when I would use them, but they were on the shelf, and I had to have them!
What better time than Christmas to incorporate these lovely, bright, tart berries? I love texture and contrast in a dish, and pistachios seemed the perfect pairing. I must emphasize the importance of good quality rice. I use basmati… Jasmine is also nice. Use good rice; it does make a difference. Of course this Persian-inspired rice cries out for saffron, and the addition of cinnamon and turmeric add depth to the dish.
So, vertically sliced onions get a bit of caramelization, and the spices get fried in a bit of olive oil. The juice of an orange plus the chicken broth should equal 2 times the amount of rice (so 2 cups). The saffron goes in with the broth, and the coarsely chopped pistachios get added along with the rehydrated zereshk when the rice is completely cooked.
I guess you might say Zereshk and Pistachio Pilaf is “cheater” polow. There is no tah-dig, but there is a ton of Persian flavor in this gorgeous pot of rice. It is definitely worthy of your holiday table!
A Christmas Menu 2015
- Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses Roasted Duck
- Spinach and Persimmon Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
- Persian-Inspired Pistachio Pilaf
Dried cranberries or currants make a pretty nice substitute for the zereshk. I've also made this rice with dried sour cherries. If you don't care for pistachios (how can that be) or just don't want to buy them, slivered almonds are a decent substitute. As I mentioned in the last post, we're not counting calories and macro nutrients for the holidays... 🙂 Macronutrients are an approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 336 Total Fat: 9g Carbohydrates: 57g Protein: 10g
Dried cranberries or currants make a pretty nice substitute for the zereshk. I've also made this rice with dried sour cherries.
If you don't care for pistachios (how can that be) or just don't want to buy them, slivered almonds are a decent substitute.
As I mentioned in the last post, we're not counting calories and macro nutrients for the holidays... 🙂
Macronutrients are an approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com.