Learn how to make the best crispy tahdig at home with this easy tutorial. This Persian classic is easier than you might think, just follow my tips and your tahdig will come out perfect every time.
Whenever we talk about Persian recipes, the first thing that comes up is "Do you know how to make tahdig?" and I'm so excited to share with you my easy, step-by-step tahdig recipe that gives you delicious and crispy Persian rice ever time. Serve with stews such as ghormeh sabzi or fesenjan for an ultimate Persian food experience!
Table Of Contents:
What Is Tahdig?
Literally meaning "bottom of the pot", tahdig is the crispy layer that forms at the bottom of the pot when making Persian steamed rice known as chelow. Tahdig, pronounced tah-deeg comes in different forms including crispy rice (scorched rice) which I will be showing you here, bread (check out my bread tahdig tutorial), potatoes which is common for lubia polo, and even chicken wings! Keep in mind that scorched rice is common in different countries including Iraq and Latin America. However, cooking methods vary depending on the region.
Tahdig VS Tahchin
One of the most common misconceptions that I see is confusing tahdig and tahchin. I've explained the process of making tahchin in lengths before, but to give a quick recap, tahdig is made by simply placing rice (plain or flavored with saffron), bread or potatoes at the bottom of an oiled pot to form a golden crust when making steamed rice.
Tahchin, on the other hand, is made by mixing parboiled rice with yogurt and eggs, sometimes layer it with a filling such as chicken, and either cook it on the stovetop or bake in the oven.
While the two might seem similar in appearance or name, the cooking process, flavor and texture is very different.
Why This Recipe Works
- Clear Instructions: There is nothing fancy about tahdig, and no rocket-science method or specific skills are needed to make this classic Persian dish. My instructions are clear and easy to follow, giving you the confidence to make the perfect tahdig every time.
- Tried and true recipe: While tahdig might be a sensation in the common years among non-Iranians, in our home it's part of an everyday meal, like bread. This recipe has been perfected for decades and now you can enjoy it too.
- Minimal ingredients: All you need is rice, saffron, butter and oil to make the best tahdig recipe.
- Rice: The most important ingredient to make this recipe is rice. Iranians always use long grain rice to make tahdig and we usually soak it for a couple of hours to get rid of the excess starch. Since Iranian long grain rice is not widely available, your best bet is going to be basmati rice, which will give you very similar results. However, basmati rice doesn't need to be soaked as long, 20 minutes should do the job.
- Salt: To flavor the rice, you need to generously salt the boiling water to parboil the rice.
- Saffron: Another Persian key ingredient, saffron gives tahdig that golden color that we all love. I recommend checking out my piece on saffron and its uses to learn more about this unique spice.
- Oil: It's important to use neutral flavored oil for this recipe. Oil is what makes the rice super crispy. You can use canola, grapeseed or avocado oil.
- Butter: A few tablespoons of melted butter adds a lot of flavor to this dish.
How To Make Tahdig
- Parboil the rice: Bring a pot of water and add a generous amount of salt. Add the rice and boil it for about 7 minutes. To see if the rice is ready, take a grain and break it between your thumb and index finger. If the exterior is tender but the middle is still firm, it means the rice is ready.
- Drain and prepare the tahdig: Drain the rice and quickly rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Mix ½ cup of parboiled rice with bloomed saffron.
- Assemble: Pour the oil into the same pot and spread the saffron rice at the bottom of the pot, pressing with the back of a spoon to make sure it's dense.
- Add the white rice: Add the rest of the rice and gently press it into an even layer.
- Wrap the lid: Poke 5 holes into the rice using the back of a wooden spoon, making sure not to touch the bottom of the pot. This is for the excess moisture to escape. Wrap the lid in a clean kitchen towel and place it on the pot.
- Cook the tahdig: Place the pot on the medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Take the lid off and place a platter on the pot. With one move flip the pot so the rice falls onto the plate.
What Kind Of Pot To Use?
The best pot you can use to make tahdig is a good nonstick pot. Anything else including Dutch oven, stainless steel or cast iron would not work as well when it comes to making tahdig.
As I mentioned before, there are several tahdig variations you can try. Crispy rice is the most classic but you can also use potatoes, beets, carrots, bread or chicken pieces. I'm going to publish more tahdig recipes in near future.
What To Serve Tahdig With?
Tahdig is part of a complete meal. With tahdig always comes rice and with rice we usually serve with Persian stews such as gheimeh, fesenjan, khoresh bademjan (eggplant stew) or morgh nardooni - pomegranate chicken.
I love topping crispy tahdig with some stew, it adds a lot of flavor and softens it just enough.
Persian tahdig is best served immediately when it's crunchy and crispy. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can reheat it in a pan over medium heat until warm. It might not be as crispy, but it's still delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tahdig tastes like saffron and is slightly buttery. It's crispy with fluffy rice underneath, giving you the best textures and flavors all in one bite.
Long grain rice such as basmati works best for this recipe. short grain rice or starchy rice won't work well for tahdig.
This recipe uses very small amount of saffron and unfortunately, it doesn't have a real substitute. You can use a bit of turmeric for color or just use plain rice.
Unfortunately tahdig doesn't freeze well and loses its flavor and texture once frozen. I don't recommend freezing this dish.
More Persian Recipes To Try
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Tahdig Persian Crispy Rice
- ¼ tsp ground saffron
- 2 cubes ice
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp neutral flavored oil
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- Sprinkle the ground saffron on the ice cubes in a small bowl and let it melt at room temperature. This will be your bloomed saffron.
- Rinse the rice a few times under running water. Place the rice in a bowl and cover it with water. Let the rice soak for 20 minutes.
- Bring an average sized pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in the salt. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Cook the rice for 7 minutes. You'll know the rice is ready by breaking a grain between your thumb and index finger. If the rice has a tender outside but inside is still firm, it's ready.
- Drain the rice using a colander and rinse it quickly with cold water to stop the cooking process. Take ½ cup of the rice and mix it with the bloomed saffron and set it aside.
- Pour the oil into the cool pan and spread the saffron rice at the bottom of the pot. Using the back of a spoon, press in the rice to make sure it's dense and covers the whole bottom of the pot.
- Add in the rest of the rice and again, using the back of a spoon, gently press the grains.
- Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5 holes in the rice but make sure you're not reaching the bottom of the pot. The holes are for the moisture to escape. Pour the melted butter on the rice.
- Wrap the lid in a clean kitchen towel and place it on the pot. Place the pot on the stove over medium high heat and cook for 25 minutes.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes, then uncover, invert a plate on the pot and carefully but confidently flip the pot so the rice falls onto the plate.