Crispy Persian Rice (Tahdig)

5 from 39 votes

Tahdig, crispy Persian basmati rice infused with saffron and turmeric with a golden butter crust. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

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!

Spoon scooping some of the crispy Persian rice to show the inside fluffy yellow rice

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.
Ingredients for recipe in individual bowls: Greek yogurt, kosher salt, olive oil, 1 egg, basmati rice, butter, ground turmeric, and saffron threads

How to make Tahdig

  1. Cook your basmati rice until al dente, rinse with cold water and drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix Greek yogurt, egg, turmeric, and half the saffron water (if using).
  3. Add the cooked rice into the bowl with the yogurt mixture and combine until well coated.
  4. 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.
  5. Add remaining cooked rice into the pan.
  6. Reduce the heat cover with a lid wrapped with a clean towel and cook until the rice is done.
6 image collage on how to make Persian rice in a cast iron pan

Tips for making Persian Rice With Basmati

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
overhead shot of crispy Persian Tahdig Rice on white serving plate
  • 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

My Persian rice came out burnt instead of crispy. What did I do wrong?

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.

My rice isn’t crispy; it’s more chewy. What did I do wrong?

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.

I don’t have a non-stick pot. Can I use something else?

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.

Serving plate with crispy Persian rice with a serving removed

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!

More Rice recipes:

If you try this healthy-ish feel good Crispy Persian Rice recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

Crispy Persian Rice

Tahdig, crispy Persian basmati rice infused with saffron and turmeric with a golden butter crust. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!
5 from 39 votes
Servings 8 servings
Course Side Dish
Calories 265
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Storage: Tahdig is best served fresh out of the pan, but, if you do have leftovers try and store them with the crispy side facing up. This will allow for easy reheating and help the rice crisp back up. 

Nutrition

Calories: 265kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 7086mg, Potassium: 78mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 161IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 28mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Share this recipe

Share it with the world! Mention @feelgoodfoodie or tag #feelgoodfoodie!

Spoon scooping some of the crispy Persian rice to show the inside fluffy yellow rice

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Does it really take 16 cups of water to make this? Is it supposed to be 4 cups maybe instead of 4 quarts?

    1. It’s correct, as you’re cooking the rice until al dente and then you’ll be draining the remaining water.

  2. Ahh this recipe was a hugeee hit with me and my fiancé!! I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already (minus the saffron which we didn’t miss!) and it was super easy to put together but still made a very good impression! Double delicious and easy peasy. I highly recommend!

  3. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I always make “Tahchin” for my non-persian friends and they always fall in love with it. Thanks for showing this amazing persian dish to your followers and thanks for being so exact. You explained it better than me!
    A couple of things:
    -The name of the dish is “Tahchin” not Tahdig. Tahdig is a general term for crispy part of the rice and not a name for a dish.

    – If you cook some barberries on the side with Tahchin, it even can take it to the next level. You can buy barberries from persian convenience stores everywhere. The persian name is “Zereshk”. It’s really easy to make:
    You wash and rinse some barberries and put them in a pan with butter, sugar(the amount is your own choice, if you like it sweet use more or vice versa) and a little bit of saffron water. You sauté them on medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes until the sugar melts. Don’t overcook them as they can burn easily. Poor it on Tahchin and enjoy both the looks and the taste!

    – You can omit the eggs and just use yogurt but don’t omit saffron! The whole deliciousness comes from it and Tahchin with no saffron is not a Tahchin anymore! It’s something like another dish called “Dampokhtak” which is delicious too but without yogurt.

    1. You’re so welcome! Thank you so much for these tips and suggestions – I’m definitely going to have to try it!

    1. I have yet to try this dish without an egg. You could try a flax egg, but I’m not sure it’ll turn out as well.

  4. So excited to try this. I had Persian neighbours who would make this rice and kabobs. I loved the crunchy part of the rice. Sumac is in my spice rack because of these neighbors. Excited to try the recipe.
    Thanks so much for sharing
    Tracey