Turkey With Barberry Rice

‘Boogalamou’. It’s a great word isn’t it? Sounds like one of the grand monsters from our childhood. Actually it’s the Persian word for turkey. Anyway, this is a very versatile little recipe – note the following variations: 1) use chicken instead of turkey – this is more authentic; 2) roast the turkey conventionally, bacon and all, and then make a juice from the giblets to go with the rice; 3) substitute the more readily available cranberries for barberries.

It is also a thrifty recipe – you can enjoy the full flavour of turkey without having to fork out for a whole bird. And, by Rostam, it’s an awful lot easier than the full sprouts and chipolatas thing!

Ok, so you will need:


  • turkey joints as appropriate to the number of festive mouths you’ve to feed; one small turkey (8-10lb), skinned and jointed, is likely to feed 8-10 people
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoonsful sugar *
  • 7-8 dried limes *
  • 200g yellow split peas *
  • 2 teaspoonsful ground turmeric *
  • 1+1/2 150g bags barberries *
  • few strands saffron, ground *
  • Basmati rice – one cup per person *
  • 30g dried mint *
  • butter for frying and S + P *

* denotes available at Persepolis

Right, off we go…

Place the turkey, onion and dried limes in a saucepan, cover with water, add the turmeric and seasoning and bring to the boil. Simmer for twenty minutes, and then add the split peas, and set to simmer for a further forty minutes.

Soak the barberries in cold water – this ensures that they are clean and allows any small stones or grit to sink to the bottom. Allow them to sit for around half an hour and then carefully scoop them out and squeeze the water out. Wash and cook your basmati rice in the usual way. Melt the butter in a frying pan and stir in the barberries: after five minutes or so of constant stirring, add the sugar and stir for a couple more minutes, and then stir the whole lot into the cooked rice.

Fry the mint in a little butter and blend it into the turkey stock. Place the rice on a large serving dish and drizzle it with steeped saffron; ladle the turkey joints on top. Serve the citrussy, yellow turkey stock and split peas in a separate bowl. This dish is great served with a bowl of thick yoghurt, fresh herbs and a range of Persian pickles. And some crackers.

Yo ho ho.