Tahchin – Crispy saffron rice cake

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!

Tahchin with eggplants

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.

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Tahchin

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Crispy saffron rice cake
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
soaking time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Iranian, Persian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups white basmati rice, soaked and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed out
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons oil divided

Barberries

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup barberries, soaked for 5 mins and rinsed
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground saffron, in 2 tablespoons water

Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons slivered pistachios

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.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the barberries by gently melting the butter and then adding the barberries, sugar and saffron water. Stir over low heat for about 2-4 minutes until the barberries have turned bright and glistening. Take care to not burn the berries. Set aside.
  • After 45 minutes, remove the rice pot from the heat, and carefully but swiftly invert the rice over a platter.
  • Garnish with the barberries and pistachios and serve right away.

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 can also be layered with lightly fried or roasted eggplants or seared chicken pieces and cooked as described above.  These layered Tahchin varieties are served as a one-pot meal.
Keyword eggs, rice, saffron, tahdig, yogurt
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4 thoughts on “Tahchin – Crispy saffron rice cake

  1. Thank you for this beautiful recipe! It may be a bit too simple, but I was wondering if you might write a post on ways to made a crispy, perfectly golden, barely browned tahdig. And would it work in a cast iron skillet, or, what is traditional?

    1. Thank you Jorie! You will notice on all my rice recipes, I describe how to make the Tahdig. As far as the pans go, really any pan could work. I have used cast iron in the oven, stainless steel, or non-stick pans on the stovetop. They all work, you just need to try them once and then adjust the flame accordingly to get a perfect Tahdig the next time.

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