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Plate of white rice topped with saffron rice, with the iranian style shredded chicken on top. On a white kitchen towel and a white background.

Persian Saffron Chicken with Barberry Rice

Fragrant chicken cooked with rosewater, saffron, and an abundance of spice on a bed of saffron infused rice. It's so exotic and delicious and yet so easy!
5 from 5 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Iranian, Middle Eastern
Keyword: rice, chicken, middle eastern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 440kcal
Author: Farah Abumaizar


For the chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 small onions, one of which is diced, one is cut in half
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp curry spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • pinch of saffron
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/3 cup rose water
  • handful sliced pistachios, and/or almonds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup barberries, plus additional for topping.

For the rice:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3.5 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp rosewater


For the rice:

  • Soak the basmati rice for 5 minutes then drain and rinse in a colander until water runs clear.
  • Add rice to a medium saucepan, and top with the water. You need the water to cover the rice by about a 1/2 inch to an 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Bring the rice and water to a boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to as low as possible and let rice cook for 15 minutes. Check on the rice. If there is still some water, let it cook another 5 minutes. If the water is absorbed turn heat off and move pan off the burner. Let stand 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.
  • Remove about 1/3 of the rice, and in a separate small bowl mix together a few tablespoons of hot water with a pinch of saffron and the turmeric until a yellow liquid forms. Add the 1 teaspoon of rosewater and pour on top of the 1/3 portion of rice. Mix evenly until rice turns a light yellow color. Set both yellow and white rice aside. You can cook your chicken at the same time as your rice:

For the chicken:

  • Place the chicken breasts in a saucepan and cover with water. Add the two onion halves, cardamom, turmeric, curry spice, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then keeping heat at medium, boil for 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Drain and cool.
  • Shred chicken into thin slices using a fork or hands.
  • In a very small pot, heat the sugar, saffron, rose water, orange zest and pistachios/almonds until sugar dissolves.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the diced onion and cook until soft and fragrant, then add the shredded chicken, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the barberries, then the saffron sugar mixture. Keep cooking, stirring frequently, until chicken has browned.
  • Assemble by placing the white rice on a serving platter, topping with the yellow rice, then the chicken barberry mixture. Garnish with extra sliced nuts and barberries.


This recipe was adapted from my friend Mona's mom. Thanks Mona's mom!
Tried this recipe?Mention @everylittlecrumb or tag #everylittlecrumb!


Calories: 440kcal