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landscape view of saffron rice in copper bowl with gold scarf

Instant Pot Barberry Rice (Zereshk Polo)

Instant Pot Barberry Rice or Zereshk Polo is the shortcut version of this traditional Persian dish. Beautiful to look at and beguiling to eat, you'll want to add this to your weeknight and dinner party menus all the time!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Persian Cuisine
Servings 8
Calories 247 kcal


  • 2 cups basmati rice rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil separated
  • 1/2 cup barberries rinsed, drained, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron ground, soaked in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar optional to sweeten barberries


Prepare the Rice

  • Rinse the rice until the water runs mostly clear. I usually rinse 2-3 times.
    rinsed rice in clear bowl
  • Drain the rice and put it in the instant pot.
  • Add the water, salt and oil and mix it around.
    uncooked basmati rice in instant pot
  • Set the Instant Pot for 5 minutes of high pressure.
  • Let the instant pot do natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes. Then carefully release the rest of the pressure. (I cover the release valve with a towel and use the end of a wooden spoon to move the valve to open and let the steam release through the towel.)
  • Open the pot and use a fork to fluff the rice. Remove 2 cups of the rice to mix with the saffron and barberries.
    cooked basmati rice in instant pot fluffed by fork

Prepare the Barberries (while rice is cooking)

  • Soak the barberries in some warm water for 10 – 30 minutes. Extraneous dirt and other debris will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
    barberries soaking in water in white bowl
  • Lay the drained berries on a towel or paper towel so you can check that all the stems and other foreign matter are gone. Dry them off.
  • Sauté the barberries with the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar if you prefer to tone back their tartness.
    barberries sauteing in white fry pan

Prepare the Saffron (while rice is cooking)

  • Use a mortar and pestle, if you have one, to crush the saffron threads.
    saffron smashed in mortar and pestle
  • Soak the threads in 2 tablespoon of water.
    saffron soaking in water in white bowl

Put it all together

  • Mix the saffron water and barberries with the 2 cups of rice you portioned out.
  • Place the rest of the rice in a nice serving bowl or platter and then add the saffron barberry rice mixture on top.
    instant pot barberry rice in copper bowl with golf scarf and copper spoon
  • Serve with chicken or kabobs or stew - any dish that goes well with rice.


Serving: 8gCalories: 247kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 151mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg
Keyword barberries, Instant Pot, zereshk polo
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