Tahdig, a Middle-Eastern crispy rice dish, literally means "bottom of the pan" in Persian. And we gotta tell you, whether the top or bottom of the pan, this meal or side is delicious, and gorgeous, throughout! Heray Spice co-founder Mohammad Salehi shows us how to make this traditional recipe. The vibrant colors come from the saffron threads that are dissolved in water. Pro tip: top it with pistachios and raisins to level-up the plating!
Heray Spice Afghan Tahdig
This traditional Middle Eastern crispy rice dish gets its vibrant colors from saffron threads. Enjoy it as a main dish or a side. To dress it up, top it with pistachios and raisins.
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup salt for water + 1/4 tablespoon
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
5 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil (such as canola or vegetable)
20 saffron threads, dissolved in water
Optional: 1 lb. cooked chicken breast or lamb, bite-sized
Optional: Toppings, such as pistachios or raisins
Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
In the meantime, place rice in a bowl and rinse with cold water, swirling vigorously with your fingers and changing the water at least five times, until the start has run off and the water runs much clearer. Drain the rice.
Once the water comes to a boil, salt it heavily. The precise amount will vary depending on what kind of salt you’re using, but it’s about 6 tablespoons fine sea salt or a generous 1⁄2 cup kosher salt. The water should taste saltier than the saltiest seawater you’ve ever tasted. This is your big chance to get the rice seasoned from within, and it’s only going to spend a few minutes in the salted water, so don’t panic about oversalting your food. Add the rice and stir.
Set a fine-mesh sieve or colander in the sink. Cook rice, stirring from time to time, until it’s al dente, about 9 to 13 minutes. Drain into the sieve and immediately begin rinsing with cold water to stop the rice from cooking further. Drain.
Mix the eggs, yogurt, saffron, and 1⁄4 tablespoon of salt to make your saffron rice.
Remove 1 cup of the rice and combine it with your saffron sauce.
Set a large, very well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium heat, then add the oil and butter. When butter melts, add the yogurt-rice mixture into the pan and level it out.
Pile the remaining rice into the pan, mounding it gently toward the center. I prefer using a glass bakeware dish pan. Add the rest of the rice on top. I also like to add cooked chicken breast or even lamb if you are not vegetarian.
Then, place an aluminum foil to cover the glassware pan.
Create few holes on the foil so the rice gets cooked well it gets crispy.
Put it inside the oven and set it for 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour, until you start to see a golden crust begin to form at the sides of the pan. Once you see the crust turn from pale amber to gold, remove it and let it rest another 10-15 minutes. The edges of the crust should be golden, and the rice should be cooked completely through. There isn’t a way to tell what tahdig will look like until you flip it.
To unmold the rice, carefully run a spatula along the edges of the pan to ensure that no part of the crust is sticking. Tip out any excess fat at the bottom of the pan into a bowl, gather your courage, and then carefully flip it onto a platter or cutting board. It should look like a beautiful cake of fluffy rice with a golden crust.
From there you can enjoy it as is or decorate with your favorite toppings, such as pistachios or raisins.