Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig is undoubtedly the most delicious and popular dish in Persian cuisine. Think of fluffy rice which is then flipped upside down to reveal a crispy golden crust at the top which we call Tahdig!
Persian rice is a staple in Persian cuisine. Growing up Persian, rice is something we eat with almost every dish. The method of double cooking and steaming the rice is a signature step in making the rice beautifully fluffy and light.
It's generally served with a Persian stew such as Khoresh Bademjan which is an Eggplant stew and one of my favorites!
We do have many different versions of Persian rice dishes such as Sabzi Polo which is layered with fresh herbs. In other dishes we use yogurt for the base and saffron, and sometimes we top it with sliced pistachios or almonds. In this recipe, I'll be showing you the classic version which we use as the base in our cooking.
The Tahdig however is of course the star of the show!! We flip the rice pot upside down on a platter, like a cake! The pot is then lifted up which will present a golden and crispy top….. heaven!
Table of Contents
What is Tahdig?
Pronounced "Tah-dig" actually translates to 'the bottom of the pot' in Farsi, a very popular staple in Persian cuisine. We literally flip the rice pot upside down on a platter, like a cake!
The pot is then lifted up which will present a golden crispy layer on the top of the rice that is everyone’s favourite part!
Tahdig can be made in many ways. The classic way is using rice like this recipe but we can also use sliced potato, flatbread, and even use plain yogurt to make a different style of tahdig. One of my favourite ways to make tahdig is when making Makaroni which is Persian Spaghetti
When Tahdig is made it's then cut into even pieces before being served. It’s always a tradition to make sure everyone at the table has received their piece before going for seconds. Oh, I promise you will want seconds of this, there’s never enough Tahdig to be eaten!
Ingredients to make Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig
- Rice of course is the star! The most common and traditional rice to use is Basmati rice. Use the best quality for the best flavor. I usually try to use Indian basmati rice. You can however also use long-grain rice or any white rice also
- Salt is added to the boiling process of the rice for flavour. Once the rice is drained and rinse, any excess salt will be washed away
- Extra virgin olive oil is what I prefer to use. You can use any oil that you prefer such as avocado oil or even vegetable oil. Melted butter is also commonly used
- Saffron is a key ingredient in making Iranian rice and many Persian dishes for its lovely aroma ,flavour and colour. If you don't have access to it, not to worry as you can make it without it
- Potato or Flatbread can be used for the Tahdig. You can use flatbread such as lavash, Lebanese bread or Pita bread. If using the potato, peel it and slice thinly.
Did you know you can make Tahdig with Potatoes??? Yep Crispy Potatoes!! It’s one of my absolute favourite Tahdig variations and it’s so easy to make!
All you have to do is peel a potato, and slice into thin even slices. When layering the pot, add the oil then add a layer of the sliced potatoes. You then add back the rest of the rice and allow to cook nice and slow on a low heat for 45 minutes and BOOM…. Crispy Potato Tahdig
How to make Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig
The secret in making Persian Rice perfect is ensuring each step is taken with care. These are my simple steps which work everytime.
- Wash rice 4 to 5 times until water runs clear without mist
- Fill pot with water and add salt Boil on a medium-high heat 10-15 minutes
- Carefully spoon out and disregard any white foam on the top
- Check that rice is cooked to aldente with a slight bite to it
- Drain rice through a colander
- Rinse under cold water with low water pressure
- Add a generous amount of olive oil to the bottom of the pot
- Add the parboiled remaining rice back to the pot. Use the handle of a tablespoon to make holes in the rice to the bottom of the pot
- Add a splash of water
- Wrap the lid with a clean kitchen towel and place the lid on. Cook on the low heat for 45 minutes
- Remove the lid and place a large plate on the pot and flip the pot upside down
- Carefully lift the pot and reveal your beautiful Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig!
What is Saffron?
Saffron otherwise known as liquid gold is a spice from the flower of Crocus sativus. It's more expensive than gold by weight and the most expensive spice in the world. Saffron is in a lot of Persian dishes which brings out a beautiful aroma, colour and flavour.
My mother taught me to grind the saffron threads using a mortar and pestle so it becomes a grainy powder. As Saffron is quite expensive, it's important to understand a little bit goes a long way.
How to use Saffron?
- The best way to use Saffron is to firstly grind the saffron threads using a mortar and pestle so it becomes a grainy powder.
- You then add a small amount of the powder, say ¼ teaspoon, into a small bowl or glass with a few tablespoons of boiling water and stir.
- Allow it to infuse for 10 minutes, you will see the beautiful colour and aromas bursting out! Once the saffron has bloomed, you can then drizzle this into your food or rice while cooking it
Tips & Tricks
- Make sure you are using a non-stick pot. This is super important otherwise your rice will stick to the pan
- Ensure you wash the basmati rice thoroughly. The water should run clear
- When you drain and rinse the rice, don't have the water pressure on too high as you don't want to break up the rice or make it mushy
- Don't be shy when adding olive oil. The oil will help make a golden crust
- The most important step of all, cook on low heat, nice and slow for 45 minutes. Rushing the rice can burn the bottom. You want it to become a thick and crispy golden Tahdig
More Persian Recipes
- Persian Ice Cream (Bastani Sonnati)
- Salad Olivieh
- Sabzi Polo (Persian Herb Rice)
- Kashke Bademjan (Persian Eggplant Dip)
- Shirazi Salad
- Mast o Khiar (Persian Cucumber Yogurt Dip)
- Lubia Polo (Green Bean Rice)
- Barbari Bread (Persian Flatbread)
- Makaroni (Persian Spaghetti)
- Mirza Ghasemi (Smoky Eggplant Tomato Dip)
I love seeing your creations and remakes, so be sure to rate the recipe, comment and share your Persian Rice with Tahdig photo on Instagram so I can share the love!
Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig
- 3 cups basmati rice
- 8-10 cups water
- 2 heaped tsp sea salt
- 2-3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- **Optional Saffron water (see above saffron section on how to make this)
- **Optional You can also use a thinly sliced potato or flat bread such as lavash or Lebanese bread for the Tahdig.
- Place your basmati rice in a non-stick cooking pot and wash the rice several times under a running tap (approximately 4 - 5 times). You want the water to run clear and not misty anymore
- Fill the pot with clean water (about 8-10 cups) and add the salt. Boil on a medium-high heat for 10–15 minutes to partially cook the riceIf there is white foam on the top of the water, carefully spoon it out and disregard
- When the grains of rice are aldente, drain the rice through a colander or fine mesh sieve. Carefully rinse under cold water. Don't have the water pressure too high
- Add the olive oil to the bottom of the pot. If using potatoes or flatbread for the Tahdig, place them in the pot in an even layer. Add the cooked rice back to the pot and using the handle of a wooden spoon or tablespoon, make holes into the rice down to the bottom of the pot. These will act as air pockets***Optional, If you’re adding saffron, add a few spoons of the saffron water at this time also
- Wrap the lid with a clean kitchen towel, add a splash of water to the pot and place the lid on. Cook on the lowest heat for 45 minutesTo serve, remove the lid and place a large dish or serving platter on the pot and flip the pot upside down. Carefully lift the pot and reveal your beautiful Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig!