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Tahdig (pronounced “taa-deeg”) is one of the BEST Persian rice dishes. This crispy, caramelized basmati and saffron rice side dish is infused with so much flavor and texture. It’s hard to resist! It’s the perfect combination of crunchy and fluffy mixed with buttery, salty, spice-infused goodness. If you’ve never had tahdig before, you’re in for a real treat!
If you’re looking for a delicious and unique Persian rice recipe to add to your repertoire, look no further than this crispy rice. Tahdig (which translates to “bottom of the pot”) is a Persian specialty that is made by cooking rice in a way that creates a crispy, golden, perfectly caramelized crust that takes the shape of the bottom of the pot. The result is a fragrant, fluffy, and crunchy dish that is simply irresistible. If the idea of crispy rice isn’t enough to get you excited, the rice is also infused with saffron and turmeric, giving it a beautiful yellow color and amazing flavor. And, while it may sound complicated, tahdig is actually quite easy to make at home.
why you’ll love this crispy Persian rice
- Crispy rice, need I say more? If you’re on the fence about whether or not to try this recipe, let me tell you that the crispy rice is worth it alone. Tahdig is all about the contrast of textures, and the crispy rice is what makes this dish so unique.
- It’s easy to make! While tahdig may sound like a complicated dish, it’s actually quite easy to make at home. The most important part is to have the right ratio of rice to butter/oil, and once you’ve got that down, the rest is a breeze.
- It’s infused with saffron and turmeric. Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices, and for a good reason! Not only does it give this basmati Persian rice recipe its beautiful yellow color, but it also infuses the rice with a delicately sweet flavor. Turmeric is another key ingredient in this dish that gives the rice a beautiful color and adds a subtle earthy flavor.
- It’s perfect for any occasion. Tahdig is perfect for everything from weeknight dinners to special occasions. It’s sure to impress your guests and have them coming back for seconds.
Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Crispy Persian Rice
- Basmati rice: Basmati rice is a long-grain, aromatic rice that is perfect for this recipe. Be sure to rinse the rice several times before cooking to remove any excess starch. If you need some extra help making sure your rice is cooked properly, just click on the underlined text!
- Saffron: Saffron is what gives this rice its beautiful yellow color and delicately sweet flavor. A little goes a long way, so don’t be tempted to add more saffron than the recipe calls for.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is another key ingredient in this dish that gives the rice a beautiful color and adds a subtle earthy flavor.
- Butter: Butter is used to help crispy up the exterior of the rice and give it a rich, buttery flavor.
- Olive oil: Keeps the rice from sticking to the pot and helps create a crispy exterior.
- Greek yogurt: Helps create that beautiful caramel color and adds a slight tanginess to the dish.
- Egg: The egg helps bind the rice. Its presence is not noticeable, so if you aren’t a fan of eggs, you should still make this dish!
- Salt: Salt is used to flavor the rice and help it retain its moisture while cooking.
How to make Tahdig
- Cook your basmati rice until al dente, rinse with cold water and drain.
- In a large bowl, mix Greek yogurt, egg, turmeric, and half the saffron water (if using).
- Add the cooked rice into the bowl with the yogurt mixture and combine until well coated.
- Melt the butter and heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the yogurt-rice mixture into the pan and gently press it in and up the sides.
- Add remaining cooked rice into the pan.
- Reduce the heat cover with a lid wrapped with a clean towel and cook until the rice is done.
Tips for making Persian Rice With Basmati
- Make sure to rinse the rice well. I like to use a mesh sieve and agitate the rice with my fingers while running it through color water until I notice the water runs clear. You can also place rice in a medium bowl and rinse with cold water, changing the water six times, until the water starts to run clear.
- Do not stir the rice once it’s in the pot. Once you’ve added the rice to the pot, resist the urge to stir it! This will help create that beautiful crispy exterior.
- Change burners if using an eclectic stove with a glass cooktop. If you’re using an electric stove, make sure to change burners halfway through cooking, when you go from medium-high to medium-low. This will help ensure your rice gets crispy but not burnt from the lingering high heat.
- Use a non-stick pot or cast iron skillet. A non-stick pot is vital for making tahdig because it helps prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and makes cleanup a breeze.
popular substitutions & additions
- Can’t find basmati? Use an alternative long-grain rice. Basmati is the traditional rice used to make tahdig and is the best choice for this dish, but in the case that you can’t find it, feel free to use another long-grain rice like jasmine or long-grain white rice.
- No saffron? Substitute it. Turmeric, safflower, and annatto are all common substitutes for saffron. How much to substitute will be up to the spice you end up using. If you stick with turmeric, I would recommend adding about ½ teaspoon to the water mixture in place of the saffron.
- Add some protein. This dish is often served as a side, but you can easily turn it into a main course by adding some ground chicken, beef, or lamb. Mix the cooked ground meat with the remaining rice (not the rice that is pressed into the bottom of the pot) and cook for the 15-17 minutes serve as a main dish.
- Out of Greek yogurt? Sour cream to the rescue. If you don’t have Greek yogurt on hand, sour cream is a great substitute. Use the same amount of sour cream as you would Greek yogurt.
what to serve/pair with your Tahdig
how to reheat & store Crispy Persian Rice
Tahdig is best served fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. If you can, try and store it with the crispy side facing so you can easily flip it into a pan when reheating.
You can even leave it on the serving plate if you have room in your fridge and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, so it stays together.
When reheating, I recommend reheating in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, crispy side down if possible, until warmed through and the exterior is crispy once again. You may need to add a little bit of olive oil or butter to help crisp up the exterior.
how long will Persian rice last in the fridge?
Tahdig will last in the fridge for up to four days, but it’s best if eaten within two days.
can I freeze Crispy rice?
Eh, you probably don’t want to freeze this recipe. When reheated, the rice will likely be mushy and not as crispy. If you do freeze it, I recommend letting it thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat by following the directions above.
Frequently asked questions
If your rice came out burnt, it was likely because your burner was up too high or too hot for too long (if you have a glass electric cooktop). Make sure you’re cooking on medium-high for the first part of the recipe, and then change to medium-low when you add the lid. This will help prevent burning.
There are a few things that could have gone wrong if your rice is chewy. First, make sure you’re using the correct rice. Basmati is the traditional rice used to make tahdig, and it’s what I recommend using. If you can’t find basmati, jasmine, or long-grain white rice are good substitutes. Second, make sure you’re not stirring the rice when you first add it to the pot. Stirring can make the rice sticky and prevent it from getting crispy. Finally, make sure you’re using enough oil or butter. The fat helps crisp up the exterior of the rice.
If you don’t have a non-stick pot, you can use a regular pot or Dutch oven, but you will likely need to use more oil or butter. Make sure to coat the bottom and sides of the pot well, so the rice doesn’t stick and burn.
Rice is a staple in many cuisines, and this Persian recipe for crispy rice is no exception. With a few simple ingredients like saffron and turmeric, you can create a dish that’s both flavorful and crispy. This recipe is also versatile, so you can easily add protein to turn it into the main course. Have you ever tried tahdig? What’s your favorite way to eat it? Let me know in the comments below. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask away. I’m happy to help!
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Crispy Persian Rice
- Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add ½ cup kosher salt (don't worry, you will not be eating all this!) Add the rice, and stir. Cook until al dente, 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- If using saffron, mix 3 tablespoons of water with ground saffron threads in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix Greek yogurt, egg, turmeric, and half the saffron water (if using). Remove 2 ½ cups of cooked rice and combine it with the yogurt mixture in the large bowl.
- Set a 10-inch or 11-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the butter and oil. When butter melts, add yogurt-rice mixture into pan and gently press it in and up the sides.
- Add remaining cooked rice into pan, making sure not to press into the pan and drizzle with remaining half of saffron water (if using). Turn heat up to medium high until rice is sizzling. Let cook
- Let the rice cook for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid wrapped with a clean towel and cook until rice is fully cooked and the edges are golden brown, 15-17 minutes.
- To remove rice, carefully run a rubber spatula along edges of pan. Top skillet with a plate that’s larger in circumference and carefully and swiftly flip the pan. Top with fresh dill and serve immediately.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.