Persian steamed rice with saffron Tahdig

Photo by Sama Rahbar

Rice, or as we say in Farsi, polow is the main grain consumed in Persian cuisine. Persians have mastered the art of cooking rice and have taken it to a whole different level. Rice is soaked and masterfully steamed to create a light and fluffy texture.

The bottom of the pot is also cooked to a crispy perfection by adding oil, ghee, or butter, and a touch of saffron and served upside down to showcase the beautiful and enticing golden crust called Tahdig.


Polo ba Zaferoon

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Persian rice pilaf with saffron tahdig
5 from 18 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
soaking 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4


  • 2 cups white basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 8 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed out.
  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, ground and mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water


  • Wash the rice thoroughly and set aside to soak for at least one hour or up to 6 hours.
  • In a large covered pot, bring 8 cups water and salt to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and boil on high heat uncovered for about 5-7 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened.
  • Drain the rice in a colander and set aside while you prepare the pan.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a non-stick pot.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the lightly cooked rice with the saffron-water mixture, gently mix, and spread evenly in the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice referred to as Tahdig.
  • Pour the remainder of the rinsed rice to the pot and lightly fluff with a fork. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the top of the rice.
  • Pour the additional 1/4 cup water evenly over the top of the rice. Wrap the lid with a clean towel and place on top of the pot.
  • Allow the rice to steam over medium-low heat for 45 minutes.
  • Cautiously and swiftly invert the rice out of the pot onto a large serving platter and serve immediately.


I typically use a non-stick pot so that I can flip the rice over and serve it upside down showcasing the crunchy saffron tahdig.
When steaming the rice, do not lift the lid, and never mix the rice.
Keyword rice, saffron, tahdig
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