Iranian barberries have long since been part of Iranian culture and cuisine. These precious berries play a major role in Middle Eastern cuisine and are widely popular in this region for its sweet and citrusy flavour. While it is locally found in Iran, barberries were once widespread around the world. It is known as Zereshk in Iran and is also used in traditional medicine to treat digestive issues and skin conditions.
What Do Barberries Taste Like?
Iranian barberries boast a sweet and tart flavour which makes it a key ingredient in Iranian cuisine. It also emits a citrusy aroma which adds a refreshing take on both savoury meals and sweet desserts. Some use these berries as a substitute for lemons and pomegranates especially when they are not in season. Unlike the lime citrus family, the taste of barberries closely resembles that of a currant.
How to Use Barberries
Iranian barberries are not typically eaten raw. Instead, they are dried and usually turned into jams, currants, and jellies. Raw barberries are pretty sour and dried barberries are more compatible with savoury dishes and desserts. Below are some of the ways you can use barberries in your cooking.
Add to your rice dishes
The most popular dish that showcases barberries is probably Zereshk Polo, which is one of the hallmark dishes in Iranian cuisine. This rice pilaf dish is an iconic part of Persian cooking and uses dried barberries to showcase a sweet and tangy mix of flavours that go so well with saffron, meat, butter, and sugar.
Add as a stuffing
Iranian barberries also make great stuffing for lamb, chicken, and other meat dishes. Its sweet and tangy flavour adds a refreshing twist to your meat dishes and cuts through the fattiness. You can also add this to sauces that match well with your lamb or chicken.
Incorporate in desserts
Barberries go well with desserts. In other countries such as India, barberries are added to their desserts. They can be used to make jams, jellies, and currants which are perfect to go with cookies and other types of pastries.
As a dry rub for meat dishes
Dried barberries make a good addition to dry rub for meat dishes. You can grind the dried berries using a food blender or a mortar and pestle while adding either sugar or salt depending on what you prefer.
Barberries are incredibly compatible with a range of dishes, from savoury to sweet ones. Check out the Saffron and More website where you can shop for their premium Iranian barberries.