Sunday, July 11, 2010

Astara Barberry and Cumin Polow

A few weeks ago, I bought a package of dried barberries. I saw them at my local ethnic grocery and first thing I thought when I saw them was "Silk Road Cooking!". I've only cooked out of that particular book once and I was looking forward to trying something else from it. I highly recommend the cookbook. It's full of beautiful and exotic dishes that are sure to please the world traveller inside you. There are several recipes which call for dried barberries, which are a tart flavored dried berry that is commonly used in Iranian/Persian cooking.

I believe I got these for under $3.

They kind of look like smaller version of dried cranberries.

Here is how the beautiful "polow" (or pilaf) turned out. Beautifully studded with the red berries, pumpkin seeds (I substituted them for pine nuts) and flavored with golden caramelized onions, cumin seeds, cardamom, saffron and rosewater. The dish is named for Astara, which is a city on the southwest coast of the Caspian Sea on the Russian-Iran border. It's a very complex flavored dish with the earthiness of the cumin, sweetness of the browned onions and extreme tartness of the berries. I enjoyed the rice with the vegetable tagine I made yesterday which was the perfect accompaniment. The sweetness of the stew went well with the strong tartness of the pilaf.


Amey said...

oooh, beautiful! I love iranian cuisine so much, and I also love that Silk Road cookbook. I haven't tried this polow, so thanks for the info - I'll definitely try it! also, I love the idea of subbing pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. Since I was afflicted with the horrible pine mouth syndrome, I have been very gun shy with pine nuts. I usually use almonds instead, but pumpkin seeds are a great idea, esp in persian food because they eat a lot of pumpkin seeds. Mmmm!

sophia said...

that looks totally beautiful, and i have the same package of barberries lurking in my pantry. sounds like a plan!

Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) said...

I've never heard of barberries. They look delicious in the rice bowl!


Indu said...

cumin pulao is one of my fav lunches ever!!