Persian Rice with Tahdig is a popular staple in Persian cuisine using basmati rice and saffron to create a golden crispy rice bottom.
Growing up Persian, one of the staple side dishes we eat with all our meals is Persian Rice. Over the years I’ve learned my mother’s recipe along with her tips and tricks to get the perfect rice every time.
It’s light, fluffy, and makes a great side dish that goes well with stir-fries, curries, stews, the list goes on.
Another favourite Persian dish of mine since childhood that you have to try is Makaroni. It is also known as Persian Spaghetti. Once cooked, we flip it upside down on a plate like a pasta cake with a crispy Tahdig base!
We do have quite a variety of rice dishes with different ingredients added to the rice but first I’ll share our staple plain white rice in which we add saffron for the beautiful color, flavor, and aroma.
The best part of making Persian rice though isn’t the rice, it’s the Tahdig which is the crispy rice we create at the bottom of the pot! Yep, you read right, crispy rice!
What is Tahdig?
Tahdig actually translates to 'the bottom of the pot' in Farsi, a popular staple in Persian cuisine. It’s the delicious golden crust that is crunchy and everyone’s favourite part of the rice.
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 Tahdig
- Basmati Rice is a must for making Persian rice dishes. My preferred rice is Indian Basmati rice
- Saffron, is key in bringing the overall aroma, flavour and colour in all Persian dishes.
- Olive Oil, I like to use extra virgin olive oil you can also substitute with an oil of your preference
- Sea Salt brings flavour to the start of the rice cooking. It might seem like a lot of salt, however when you rinse the rice the excess is washed off.
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 used in a lot of Persian dishes which brings out a beautiful aroma, colour and flavour.
I have been taught by my mother to grind the saffron threads so it becomes a grainy powder. This way, it's easier to infuse, creating saffron water that brings out all the goodness. As Saffron is quite expensive, it's important to understand a little bit goes a long way.
Important tips to make Persian crispy rice
- Make sure to wash the basmati rice thoroughly before starting to cook it.
- Ensure you are using a non-stick pot to cook the rice in
- The best way to wash it is in the pot you will be cooking it in.
Place the pot in the sink and fill it up with water, moving the rice around with your fingers. Pour the water out, making sure not to pour out the rice and repeat this 3-4 times until the water is clear and it’s no longer dull and misty
- Mid-cook when rinsing the rice, make sure when the water runs that it does so gently over the rice through your colander.
- Don’t be rough or tap the colander to remove the extra water as this will make the rice mushy. Let the excess water drip out by itself
- Ensure to add a generous amount of olive oil to your pot before adding the rice back in. Having sufficient oil will ensure the Tahdig doesn’t burn
- If you feel enough oil wasn’t added to the pot, you can add drizzle some extra to the edges before increasing the temperature at the end when making the Tahdig
- When the temperature has been increased for making the Tahdig at the end, make sure to keep an eye on it as you don’t want it to burn. All stoves are different so the timing of 8 minutes noted can vary slightly depending on the strength of your stove.
- After the rice pot has been flipped upside down, in the case that the Tahdig isn’t crunchy enough or isn’t golden enough to your liking, you can flip this part of the rice back into the pot to let it continue to cook a little longer. It’s always best to remove from the heat earlier than later so not to stress if this happens
More Persian Recipes
Persian Rice with Tahdig
- 3 cups basmati rice
- 8-10 cups cold water
- 3 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-3 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of grinded saffron (optional)
- Wash the rice in a pot 3-4 times until water is clear (refer to tips above for the way I wash my rice)
- Once washed, fill a non stick pot with cold water, approximately one inch from the top.Add salt and cook on a medium high heat with the lid off.
- Slowly as it boils, you will notice some white foam appear at the top. Gently remove with a spoon and disregard
- In the meantime, add a pinch of saffron into a small cup and pour over 3 tablespoons of boiling water. Stir and leave aside for the saffron to infuse the water.
- After approximately 15 minutes, test a few grains of rice. It should be ¾ way cooked and al dente
- Drain the rice through a colander into the sink disregarding the water. Gently pour the tap water over the rice through the colander to rinse the rice (refer to my important tips). At this time, also rinse the pot to ensure it’s clean.
- Add olive oil to the pot and make sure it’s spread out evenly on the bottom and covered well. Add the rice back to the pot and place on the stove on a low-medium heat
- With the handle of a spoon, gently make 6 holes into the rice down to the bottom of the pot. These will act as air pockets.
- Pour the saffron water over the top of the rice (optional), otherwise if not using saffron water, add a splash of water to help it steam.Place lid on the pot and let the rice slowly cook and steam to complete the cooking process.
- After approximately 25-30 minutes, remove the lid and check the texture of the rice. It should be cooked with a fluffy texture.
- To make the Tahdig, increase the heat to medium high with the lid on. If you feel there wasn’t enough oil added to the bottom of the pot, you can lightly drizzle oil to the edges of the pot.
- After approximately 8 minutes it will be ready to flip! Gently flip the pot upside down on a large platter. This can be done by placing the platter on the top of the pot and flipping upside down.
- You will be left with a beautiful pile of rice topped with crispy Tahdig.Cut the Tahdig into evenly sized pieces and enjoy with your favourite dish!