Barberry Quinoa Rice with Saffron Chicken is a tangy sweet mouth watering feast with plenty of protein, healthy fats and is phytochemical rich!!
This is an adapted version of a much favored Persian rice dish known as Zereskh Polow. The tiny jewel like barberries are know as Zereshk in Persian. This flavorful rice dish, studded with the super tasty berries, quinoa, almonds and pistachios along with a nicely roasted flavorful chicken is a must try!!
Barberry Quinoa Rice with Saffron Chicken provides an ample amount of protein from the chicken. In this recipe, I roasted the whole chicken with its skin on. I have read about experiments done by some well respected culinary nutrition sites that roasting the chicken with its skin on actually results in less fat in the cooked product, provided the skin is removed before consumption. The bonus is that the chicken cooked in this manner is actually a lot more juicier and tasty.
Photo Credit: Bijan of www.bijansviewfinder.com
Barberries are a staple in the Persian kitchen. I think that these berries have the potential to appease almost anyone. They are tangy-sweet in taste, delightful in texture and add a very festive look to any dish. Apart from their taste, these berries are phytochemical rich with many health benefits and are a favored item of research. Here is another interesting way of cooking with these berries – Almond Herb Crusted Baked Fish – in this post you can also find out more about barberries.
I have altered the classic version of this rice dish by incorporating some quinoa for a variation – in taste, texture and also to enrich its nutrition value. If you love quinoa, go ahead and experiment with greater levels of substitution and let me know what you think. Quinoa is in popular press for its nutrition value – higher in protein than other grains, a complete protein, a source of antioxidants and for benefits with lowering the risk of chronic disease. It lends itself beautifully in a variety of ways, such as in this Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Chickpea Patties.
So cook this Barberry Quinoa Rice with Saffron Chicken and add a touch of delicious opulence to the table at any feast!
Barberry Quinoa Rice with Saffron Chicken
Servings: 14 Serving Size: 1 Cup
Calories 241, Total Fat 6 g (Saturated Fat 1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat 4 g), Cholesterol 40 mg, Sodium* 424 mg, Potassium 240 mg, Phosphorus 170 mg, Total Carbohydrate 31 g, Dietary Fiber 2 g, Sugars 2 g, Protein 14 g
* Sodium value may vary. Check for any added salt in spice mixes and other ingredients and adjust.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
2 ½ lbs Whole Chicken
1 ½ teaspoons Advieh*, (Persian spice mix, divided)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
2 onions – one whole peeled, one sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon saffron, ground and dissolved in 3 tablespoons hot water, divided
2 cups white basmati rice*, rinsed
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups dried barberries, cleaned* (see note)
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ tablespoons slivered almonds
1 ½ tablespoons slivered pistachios
Combine 1 teaspoon advieh spice blend, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Rub this mixture all over and inside the chicken. Inserting fingers loosen the skin from the meat and rub the mixture onto the flesh and under the skin. Place a few garlic slices under the skin as well. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Stuff the chicken cavity with bay leaves, remaining garlic slices and whole onion. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of saffron inside the cavity and over the chicken. Tie the ends of the legs with a cord or use a bamboo skewer to hold it in place.
Place the chicken breast side up in an oven proof baking dish, cover and bake at 350º F for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Carefully transfer the chicken to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush 1/2 tablespoon saffron water over the chicken and broil both sides till golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, as needed. Generously sprinkle the lemon juice all over the chicken.
Bring 1 ½ cups of water to a rolling boil in a sauce pan. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Then add 3/4 cup quinoa, stir and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to cook until all the water is absorbed for about 20 minutes*.
Bring 2 ½ cups of water to a boil in a rice cooker. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the white basmati rice and stir. Let it cook just until all the water is absorbed*. In my rice cooker the whole process takes about 15 to 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes sprinkle the remaining saffron water all over. You may set aside two scoops of this saffron rice to use for garnish.
While the rice is cooking, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil at medium setting in a cooking pot. Add the sliced onions and sauté few minutes until light golden brown. Add the cleaned barberries and stir for a minute at low heat – not more, as they burn easily. Add 1/2 teaspoon advieh spice blend and mix. Turn off the heat. Add the honey, stir and set aside.
Place the rice-quinoa mixture with the sautéed onion/barberry mixture in several alternating layers in a serving dish. Place the prepared chicken over the rice. Garnish the Barberry Quinoa Rice with Saffron Chicken using the almonds, pistachios, some barberries and saffron rice. When serving, discard chicken skin and carve.
Enjoy the Barberry Quinoa Rice with Saffron Chicken with some yogurt, pickles and salad.
If you prefer to make the rice crust such as in my recipe on Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes, you may check out the recipe and follow the instructions there and use 2 tablespoons of yogurt in place of the marinade that was used to make the crust in that recipe.
Dried barberries need to be cleaned well. Remove the tiny stems and place the barberries in a colander and immerse in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes until all the sand settles in the bottom of the bowl. Rinse the barberries thoroughly couple of times to make sure there is no sand.
For cooking quinoa, check with package instructions as well.
May use ground cumin powder or a mixed spice blend instead of advieh.
The rice-quinoa layers may be steamed along with the onion-barberry mixture but this would result in some loss of color from the barberries and leaching on to the rice grains.