In Iranian culture, barberries are incorporated into certain wedding dishes as a symbol; the sourness of the small, red berries, it is said, representing the occasional sourness of life.
As anyone who has tried a dish featuring barberries will attest, the appeal of this vitamin C-rich Middle Eastern fruit goes far beyond symbolic.
The fruit of the berberis shrub, barberries have been known by many names. In England, they were once commonly known as pipperages, and used for jams and jellies due to their high levels of pectin.
In Persian, they are known as zereshk.
Most traditionally, barberries are used in an Iranian rice pilaf known as tahcheen-zereshk, where the bright red jewel-like berries contrast perfectly against the saffron-infused rice, both in flavour and colour.
Their tartness also makes them a wonderful match for chicken, lamb and other meats, incorporated into a stuffing, added to a salad or stirred through a sauce.
Stir through cous cous, use in a homemade chutney or tomato sauce, even add to a homemade tea.
The Essential Ingredient Dried Barberries, produced in Iran, can be rehydrated for 10 minutes in cold water, or used in their dried form.
For an incredible lamb rub, grind the dried berries in your mortar & pestle with salt and pepper.
Once you try these brilliant berries, you’ll quickly find many uses for their beautiful appearance and sweet/sour taste.