Persian food is one of the world's oldest, most exquisite cuisines. Its influence can be found far and wide. It's time to get around to one of the most important components of Persian cuisine: the glorious rice with crunchy tahdig! You've heard of it, right? The fluffy rice flavored with saffron and the crispy part is called Tahdig! How do people make it so perfectly? Well, it's time for you to learn how to master this staple of Iranian food culture.
What is Persian Rice?
Persian rice is a staple in Persian cuisine. When you are Iranian, you eat rice with almost every meal. Rice is Polo in Farsi, and it is the most important component of some Persian dishes, specifically all of the stews (Khoresh) and some of the kabobs. The standard Iranian rice can be served with almost any Khoresh, such as Ghormeh sabzi, though traditionally, some of the Khoresh (s) can be served with different types of rice. The cooking technique for all kinds of rice starts the same way as the white rice. Then depending on the recipe, the white rice is mixed with dried fruits, nuts, herbs or vegetables. These ingredients are added either after the steaming process is finished or at the parboiled stage of the rice, depending on the recipe.
What is Tahdig?
In Farsi, Tahdig is the name for a bottom layer of crispy and crunchy rice cooked in an upside-down pot—a staple dish in Persian cuisine. Like flipping a cake, flip the rice pot upside down on a platter! Once the pot is lifted, a golden crispy layer will appear on top of the rice, which everyone loves!
There are many ways to make tahdig, a Persian dish made with rice, but this recipe uses it classically. Some other versions use potato slices or flatbread, and you can even make one version by replacing some of the water you would usually add when cooking rice with plain yogurt (Tahchin)! One of my favourite ways to eat Tahdig is alongside Makaroni—Persian Spaghetti.
Tahdig's custom is to serve equal portions to everyone before going back for a second helping. I guarantee there won't be enough of it—you'll want more!
A Quick Guide to Choosing Rice
To make Persian white rice, you need long-grain rice such as Hashemi rice. While steaming, long-grain rice keeps its shape and doesn't get mushy or sticky easily. Short grains tend to stick together, whereas we need rice that ends up being fluffy and having separated grains.
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Ingredients to Make Rice with Crispy Tahdig
Rice, of course, is the star! The most common and traditional rice to use is Tarem rice. Use the best quality for the best flavor. I usually try to use Persian rice. Also, you can use long-grain rice or any white rice.
Adding salt to the boiling water gives rice its distinctive flavour. After draining and rinsing, any excess salt is washed away.
Olive oil is what I prefer to use. You can use any oil you like, such as avocado or vegetable oil. Melted butter is also commonly used.
Saffron is a key ingredient in making Iranian rice and many Persian dishes for its lovely aroma,flavor, and colour. Behraman saffron or Zaran saffron are good choices.
The secret to making Persian Rice is taking care of each step. I'm going to show you how it's done so that next time you make this delicious dish at home, your guests will think you are a master chef!
- Bring the pot of water to a boil, add salt and boil for 10-15 minutes.
- Carefully spoon out and disregard any white foam on the top.
- Check that the rice is not overcooked and has a firm but tender texture.
- Drain rice through a colander
- Rinse under cold water with low water pressure
- Place a generous amount of olive oil at the bottom of your pot.
- Add the remaining parboiled rice back to the pot. Use the handle of a tablespoon to make holes in the rice to the bottom of the pot.
- Add a splash of water.
- Wrap a clean kitchen towel around the lid, and place it back on so that steam does not escape. Cook for 45 minutes over low heat
- Place a large plate on top of the pot, invert it and turn the lid askew to remove.
- Carefully transfer the pot and enjoy perfectly cooked Persian rice with a crispy bottom layer.
How to use Saffron in Rice Recipe?
The best way to use saffron is to grind it into a grainy powder using a mortar and pestle.
Add a small amount of the saffron powder, say ¼ teaspoon, to a bowl or glass and add boiling water. Let it sit for 10 minutes before drinking.
See the beautiful color and aromas bursting out! You can then drizzle this into your food or rice while cooking it.