Sweet and Sour Rice

Zereshk are very small dried berries that are delicious mixed with rice. They are available from most Persian and Middle Eastern food stores.


serves 4
50 g (2 oz) zereshk
45 ml (3 tbsp) melted butter
50 g (2 oz) 1/3 cup raisins
30 ml (2 tbsp) sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cumin
350 g (12 oz) scant 2 cups basmati rice, soaked in salted water for 2 hours
2 - 3 saffron strands, soaked in 15 ml (1 tbsp) boiling water


1. Thoroughly wash the zereshk in cold water at least 4 - 5 times to rinse off any bits of grit.

2. Heat 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the butter in a small frying pan and stir fry the raisins for 1 - 2 minutes.

3. Add the zereshk, fry for a few seconds and then add the sugar, and half of the cinnamon and cumin. Cook briefly and then set aside.

4. Drain the rice and then boil in salted water for 5 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until half cooked.

5. Drain and rinse in lukewarm water and wash and dry the pan. Heat half of the remaining butter in the pan, add 15 ml (1 tbsp) water and stir in half of the rice.

6. Sprinkle with half of the raisin and zereshk mixture and top with all but 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the rice. Sprinkle over the remaining raisin mixture.

7. Blend the reserved rice with the remaining cinnamon and cumin and scatter over the top of the rice mixture. Dribble the remaining butter over and then cover the pan with a clean dish towel and secure with a tightly fitting lid, lifting the corners of the cloth back over the lid. Steam the rice over a very low heat for about 30—40 minutes.

8. Just before serving, mix 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the rice with the saffron water. Spoon the rice on to a large flat serving dish and scatter the saffron rice over the top to decorate.

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