Power Up & Slim Down: Barberry Brown Rice Recipe

Tart and a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants, barberries are an unsung hero of fruit. These jewel-like berries come from a thorny shrub that can be found in various forms all over the world, but is particularly popular in Middle Eastern cooking.

Benefits of Barberries

Barberries contain a special compound called berberine, which has been shown to fight viruses and bacteria. This makes our barberry brown rice dish the perfect addition to any meal during cold and flu season.

Other benefits of barberries?

Promotes GI Health. In fact, in one study, barberry was an effective remedy for diarrhea. Ew, but, you know, yay, too!

Heart Health & Weight Loss. When obese participants of a study were given 500 mg of the berberine found in barberries three times a day for three months, they lost an average of 5lb while also showing a reduction of triglyceride levels by 23% and cholesterol levels by 12.2%. In another study, participants dropped their BMIs from 31.5 to 27.4 and lost on average two inches around their waists thanks to daily doses of berberine.

Lower Blood Sugar. Yep, berberine has also been shown to significantly lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, helping with hypoglycemia.

Boosts Liver Health. Barberry has been shown to help protect your liver and even repair damage due to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Whew, that's a lot from one unassuming berry. The downside? You won't be able to find barberries at most grocery stores, but you can order them from Amazon, or get them at most Iranian or Middle Eastern speciality shops.

Ready to get cooking? Let's go!

Savoury Barberry Brown Rice

Enjoy this savoury take on a traditional Persian dish. We've just simplified it a little, so you can enjoy this clean, healthy meal, faster. This recipe makes 4 servings so make a lot, and then save for later.

You'll need:

  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground saffron
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned orange peel
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried barberries soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water syrup


  1. Wash rice.
  2. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large non-stick pot. Add the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add washed rice to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the rice for until done, usually 20 - 30 minutes.
  3. Drain any remaining water and add  1 tablespoon of the oil. Stir. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the saffron while rice is cooking. Dissolve the saffron in a small bowl with 5 tablespoons of boiling water and set aside to steep.
  5. Place orange peels and 1 cup of water in a small pot over medium-low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and then drain. Repeat once again. Place the orange peels back in the pot and add 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup. Simmer over medium heat until the water is nearly evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Now, set it aside.
  6. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion and heat until beginning to soften and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the orange peels from their syrup, add them to the onion mixture, and stir to combine.
  7. Reduce the heat to low. Drain the barberries and add them to the frying pan. Heat for 1 minute, stirring the whole time. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Heat, stirring, until about 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of the saffron liquid and the rose water. Stir well and simmer until the liquid is almost totally evaporated, which will be about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  8. Remove the lid from the rice pot and fluff the rice with a fork.
  9. Plate rice and then barberry mixture in layers, adding a layer of rice, then mix, then rice, then mix.


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1 comment

Where can I find dried barberries? A health food store? Thanks!

NK March 10, 2019

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