Savory rice pilaf cake

Tahchin

ته چین

Rice is at the front and center of the Persian table, and there are quite a few techniques for preparing it, from simple steamed rice to more complex rice dishes in which various ingredients are layered into the rice to create a one-pot meal.

Tahchin translates to “arranged in the bottom” and is a classic casserole-style rice dish prepared by adding tangy yogurt, creamy eggs, golden saffron, and oil to the rice to create an irresistible savory cake.

Tahchin will typically have eggplants, chicken, or other ingredients that are decoratively arranged on the bottom or in the center of the pan. As with most Persian rice dishes, the bottom of the pot becomes crispy during the cooking process and then served upside down, showcasing the coveted crispy tahdig!

For reasons not too clear to me, sadly we didn’t make tahchin in our household when I was growing up. So, I only came to experience this as an adult when I learned how to cook Persian food for myself.

Regrets.

Tahchin

Persian savory saffron rice pilaf cake
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time50 mins
soaking time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: eggs, rice, saffron, tahdig, yogurt
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white basmati rice, soaked and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice (will be rinsed out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 cup yogurt, greek style
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons oil, or melted ghee or butter, divided

Instructions

  • Wash the rice thoroughly and set aside to soak for at least one hour.
  • In a large covered pot, bring 8 cups water and the salt to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and boil on high heat uncovered for about 6-8 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened.
  • Drain the rice in a colander, rinse with lukewarm water, and set aside while you prepare the yogurt and egg mixture.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the saffron, yogurt, eggs and 5 tablespoons of oil and mix thoroughly.
  • Gently fold in the parboiled rice and mix until all the of the rice is mixed with the golden yogurt and egg mixture.
  • Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pot and add the rice mixture to the pan.
  • Wrap the lid with a clean towel and place on top of the pot. This will allow the rice to steam.
  • Allow the rice to steam over a medium-low to medium heat for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, and carefully but swiftly invert the rice over a platter.

Notes

Tahchin can also be prepared as a casserole in an oven-safe dish.  Covered and baked at 400 degrees F for 1 hour.
Tahchin is typically garnished by lightly sauteed and slightly sweetened and saffron glazed barberries, pistachio and almond slivers. I decorated mine with roasted potatoes and barberries.
Tahchin with eggplants or chicken are served as a one-pot meal or accompanied by various Persian stews.

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