Growing up, the closest I ever got to anything Persian was a cat. And that being said, Poncho would not let you get very close…unless you wanted to get bit. There were 6 reasons under the age of 12 why he ran away after only living at our house for a week. Don’t worry though, he made himself super comfortable at the house down the street. (Until he got hit by a car many years later. Sad but true story.)
Persians don’t play around! Literally. The cats do not like to play. You could most definitely say the same about their rice! Take everything you know about cooking rice, 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice, and throw it out the window. Yeah, they do things much differently. The end result is amazing!
I bought a year supply of rice over the weekend during my first time ever visit to a Persian grocer. I mainly just wanted the burlap bag so I could make a purse later on. After telling my favorite co-worker about my food shopping adventure she gave me some saffron, homemade yogurt, and a link to a recipe for Persian rice- tahdig! I’d had this once before at a birthday party in high school. Up until a few days ago, I had referred to tahdig as crunchy rice.
For the most part I followed this recipe. Somehow I messed up on the easiest part, measuring. I blame all the coffee I’ve been drinking. If you plan to make tahdig, plan ahead! It is recommended that you soak the rice overnight.
2 cups Basmati rice (I wasn’t paying attention and did 4…)
a pinch of saffron
a pinch of sugar
plain yogurt (if I didn’t have homemade I’d of used Greek)
lots of fresh dill
1. In a large bowl, rinse your rice until the water in the bowl is almost clear. Soak over night. 2. In a large pot, preferably nonstick and non-stainless steel, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Salt your water and pour the rice into the pot. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, pour 1 tbs of the boiling water into a small bowl over the saffron and sugar. Just watch as the water turns a nice yellow shade.
4. Mix the saffron water with about 3 tbs of yogurt. You will later mix this with a few scoops of the cooked rice to give the bottom a nice golden color once finished.
5. When the 10 minutes is up, drain and rinse your rice with cold water. Scoop about 1/2 cups worth into the bowl with the yogurt and saffron and mix well.
6. Fill your original pot with just enough water that the entire bottom is covered, roughly about 1/2 inch high. Add about 2 tbs of vegetable oil, and swirl around so that they kind of mix. (Oil and water don’t mix. It’s science.)
7. Next, pour the yogurt rice into the pot so that it covers the bottom of your pan. This will be the good, crunchy part later!
8. Pour the drained rice on top. The original recipe says to make a pyramid. I did not have enough room so it really just became the top layer of rice.
9. Poke holes in the rice with the end of a spoon. Be sure to not poke all the way down! This is for steaming purposes.
10. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on high heat for no longer than 10 minutes.
11. After the 10 minutes is up, wrap the lid in a towel and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for one hour.
12. When finished, dump the pot over a large plate, as you would a cake. The top layer of rice should easily come out. The bottom and best part might need a little extra help.
Break up the bottom layer so other people can enjoy it. Serve with butter, sea salt, fresh dill, and yogurt!
Now if only I had some kebabs! I have lived off of this rice for the last 2 days, mainly topping with dill, yogurt, and a fried egg.
I read somewhere that cooking rice Persian style is almost an art form. I got egg poaching down on the first try…. Maybe I am a natural?
So excited to try my next Persian recipe, whatever that may be!