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Jan 18, 2010 07:09 PM

ISO dried barberries

Perusing Yotam Ottlenghi's New Vegetarian column on the Guardian website, I ran across a typically intriguing recipe -- -- for aubergine kuku, a Persian eggplant frittata (as it were) with a surprise ingredient: dried barberries.

While I've seen the fruits on barberry shrubs, I've never seen them in a store. So before heading off on a search, I was wondering whether anybody has. The berry is the fruit of the incredibly thorny European barberry (Berberis vulgaris var. asperma) and may be known as épine-vinette, vinetier or berbéride in French. Barberries are used in cooking in the Middle East, especially Iran, where they're called zereshk.

The Iranian/Middle East connection probably means that Akhavan or Adonis would be a good place to start looking. Unfortunately both are out of the way for me, so if someone could check the next time s/he's in one or the other store, I'd much appreciate it. FWIW, the Olives et Épices website doesn't list them.

And if you aren't familiar with Ottolenghi: the Cookbook (available at Appetite for Books), check out the following thread and the links therein:

The Ottolenghi blog is pretty cool too:

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  1. They definitely have them at Akhavan, I've bought them there before. In bags with the pre-packaged nuts, dried fruits, etc.

    The package has the Farsi/Persian name on them - I no longer have the bag because I put them in a jar, but let me look it up... yes, it's Zereshk. I use them to make Zereshk Polow - a chicken & rice dish.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kpzoo

      Wow. I hadn't even finished editing my post and there you were with the answer. Thanks, kpzoo. Looks like I'll be trekking to the wilds of NDG before long. Saw a couple of references to the zereshk polo(w) dish and had made a mental note to investigate further when/if I got the berries.

      1. re: kpzoo

        I can confirm that Akhavan has them. I've haven't seen them at Adonis, but then again I've never looked for them there.

      2. I have seen them in a few small Middle Eastern fruit and vegetable stores, so they are around. In the past, I have noticed bags of them at Rachelle-Béry (or maybe the Loblaw/Provigo organic food aisle).