Get ready to have every other type of rice ruined for you. If you’re a stranger to the magical world of crispy Persian rice, or tahdig, let me tell you it’s a game changer. Literally translating to bottom of the pot, tahdig infuses long-grain rice with fragrant saffron and tons of butter to create a luxurious dish begging to be cracked. Given the fact that Nowruz (Persian New Year) is right around the corner, there’s never a better time to give this recipe a try!
When I met my husband, I was thrusted into the world of Persian cooking, discovering a new frontier of rich stews and vibrant rices. I became determined to master tahdig for him, so I started shadowing his mother and aunt in the kitchen to learn their ways. While I might not be trying to become an ASMR influencer, I’ve now dedicated a huge chunk of my Instagram to videos documenting the sounds of crunchy rice (give the people what they want!).
To put it simply, you par cook rice, then mix some with yogurt, egg, saffron and butter to lay on the bottom of the pot before you add the rest of the rice. You then rely on sound and smell to tell when the bottom has become golden brown perfection. This variety (my husband’s favorite) adds sliced potato first for a crispy starch on starch masterpiece that you’ll be picking at long before it hits the table to serve with any Persian stew or kebab (maybe my recipe for Fesenjan, a Persian pomegranate and walnut stew?!).
Here are some tips to help you find success on your first go: 1. Rinse your rice well before soaking in salt water. You want to get off any excess starch, as well as letting the rice start to absorb some of that salty water. 2. Use a cheap non-stick pot! It always works better for an even crust that never sticks. 3. Trust your other senses! This is a Bird Box moment, so you want to make sure you hear a slow and steady sizzle and then pull it when the rice smells toasted and fragrant (it will resemble fresh popcorn!).
Give potato tahdig a go. There’s never a better time for starch madness.
- 3 cups basmati rice, rinsed
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/ 4 cup boiling water
- 1/ 4 teaspoon saffron threads, ground with a mortar and pestle
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 1/ 2 cup whole Greek yogurt
- 1 Handsome Brook Farm Pasture-Raised Organic Egg
- 1 small russet potato, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
In a large bowl, cover rice with cold water and 1 tablespoon salt. Soak for 1 hour, then drain.
Combine boiling water and saffron in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon salt and 6 tablespoons melted butter.
In another bowl, whisk together yogurt and egg, then stir in half of saffron mixture. In yet another bowl, toss potato slices with 1 tablespoon saffron mixture to coat.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Boil rice until slightly tender but still not fully cooked, 5 minutes; drain.
Grease a 10-inch non-stick pot with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. To the yogurt mixture, gently stir in 3 cups boiled rice until coated. Line the bottom of pot with potato slices, then spread coated rice over potatoes and up 1-inch around sides. Top with remaining rice, then drizzle remaining saffron mixture on top.
Wrap a towel around pot lid and cover. Place over medium-high heat until you begin to hear rice sizzling, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until golden brown, 15-20 minutes; remove from heat. Place a platter over pot and invert so crispy rice is on top, then serve.