Barberries are a type of evergreen shrub that is usually found in tropical countries. They are red in colour and are usually dried before using as a food ingredient. The barberry looks like a smaller version of the cranberry. It is also similar to the look of a currant except for its colour which is read. Dried barberries are usually available and imported from Iran.
The fruit is one of the very basic ingredients used in Persian cooking. This is the reason why they are sometimes referred to as Persian barberries. They taste similar with cranberries but with a tart-like flavour. In Europe, they are usually eaten raw and can be intensely sour.
Barberries are high in nutrients and are believed to help manage the symptoms of diarrhoea. Barberries are considered to be good for dental health, features anti-cancer effects, helps fight acne and generally beneficial for the digestive tract.
Here are some ways on how you can enjoy and incorporate barberries into your meals.
Barberries are commonly used as ingredients for Persian rice dishes. Among the popular rice dishes where Persian barberries are present includes the Tahdig or the crispy Persian rice, Chelo or the Persian Steamed White Rice and the popular Persian rice that is cooked with Basmati rice, russet potatoes and olive oil. Whether added as dry or fresh, it gives a distinct flavour that is unique with Persian cooking and dining.
To add a kick of flavour to your usual chicken salad meals, toss some barberries in it. The sour flavour of barberries is balanced out by the mayo on your salad as well as sweetness of the other fruit ingredients. It also adds a bright colour to the presentation of your chicken salad.
Candy and Drink Flavourings
In Russia, the barberry is usually used as flavouring for candies and drinks. It is cooked together with saffron tea and then added with sugar. It creates a sweet and sour flavour that is usually loved with candies.
Barberries are also commonly used to prepare tea. It is boiled and mixed together with flavourings such as orange zest and honey. Barberry tea is usually taken as an alternative medicine for treating dental plaque, swelling in the gums and kidney issues. It is also believed to be beneficial in eliminating the symptoms of stomach cramps, gout, arthritis, and bowel problems. Drinking tea is also said to be beneficial in taking good care of the metabolic system. Other studies suggest that barberries can also help regulate blood sugar levels and are helpful to diabetics.
Barberries contain berberine, a compound found in plants that are usually associated with several health benefits. Studies claim that it is a powerful antioxidant and can combat cell damage caused by free radicals. On top of its health benefits, the flavour it features is a unique character that makes it a favourite additive when cooking Persian and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.