Tahdig (Persian Crispy Rice)

Eleanor King

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Makes 6 servings

2 cups basmati rice

2 Tablespoons salt

½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads

3 Tablespoons hot water

3 Tablespoons grapeseed oil or ghee

Pronounced “tah-deeg,” this traditional Persian recipe is made of cooked rice which has a crispy bottom. Typically, tahdig is spiced with saffron and citrus fruits, and gets its golden crust from ghee or fatty oil. Depending on where it is made, tahdig can also be made with raisins, herbs, fish, and other regional flavors. This recipe is a basic saffron tahdig that requires some pan-flipping skill and a gentle touch. 


1. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes, swirling it around with your fingers a few times. Drain and rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.

2. In a large pot, add rice, 8 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the rice is tender but not soft. Drain the rice and rinse with warm water. Let drain completely.

3. In a small bowl, add saffron and hot water. Swirl together gently and set aside.

4. In a large, high-walled non-stick pan, add oil or ghee over medium-high heat. Once the ghee is sizzling or the oil begins to shimmer, add about two cups of cooked rice, or enough to coat the bottom of the pan, about 1 ½ inches high. Press down firmly with a spatula or glass. Spoon the remaining rice over the top, forming a small mound. Using the wooden handle of a spoon or spatula, create six to eight holes in the rice, pushing down until just before the bottom of the pan. Do not push all the way through the rice. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes.

5. Uncover and drizzle the saffron and water mixture over the rice, making sure to distribute as evenly as possible. Turn the heat to low. Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel and place back over the rice, making sure to keep loose ends away from the flames. Continue to cook for about 30 minutes or until the sides of the rice appear golden brown. Do not remove the lid unless you think the rice is burning.

6. Remove from the heat, remove the lid, and let rest for 5 minutes. Check to see if the rice has detached from the bottom of the pot by using a thin spatula and running it around the edges and underneath.

7. Time to flip! Place a large platter or plate upside down on top of the pan. Using hot mitts or kitchen towels, quickly flip the pan and plate over. The rice should pop out of the pan and onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

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