Friday, March 17, 2017

Basmati Rice Persian Style (Tahdig style)

Throughout the Middle East, this is the rice of choice. This is a very long grained variety. In Iran and Iraq, the rice can be as long as 1/2 inch. Rice is cooked differently in these Persian regions.

Washed Basmati rice is cooked in cold water in an open pot, adding hot water as necessary (¼ of an inch above the top of the rice is the water level) until the rice is just firm, about 10 minutes after the rice has reached boiling. Then, it is drained in a colander. A thick-bottomed large pot with a tight fitting lid is used. The pot is well oiled on the inside-bottom and lined with 1/8 thick slices of potato. (Be generous with the oil.) The rice is heaped in a cone on top the potatoes and a towel is wrapped around the outside of the rice. The lid is added. The rice is then placed on an even very low heat for an hour. The rice finishes cooking slowly. The excess liquid is absorbed by the towel. Once towel is removed, fluff rice with a fork.

Persian style Basmati rice, once cooked, is then flavored in a number of ways: Adding Persian dill, sumac leaves, cooked red Zabresks (Barberries) (similar to tiny Cranberries), baby lima beans are sometimes used. Additionally, saffron in dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water until its bright yellow and poured over a ½ cup of the cooked rice. The cooked rice immediately soaks this up, taking on the bright yellow of the saffron, without undue effects of the excess moisture. The bright yellow rice is then sprinkled over the other rice as a flavorful garnish. The Persians are particularly fond to the crisp potato layer on the bottom of the pot – many Persians consider it the best part of this dish. The guest are always served an ample portion of the crisp layer a top the rice.

An important cooking concept is indicated in this Persian recipe. The recipe makes use of a “sacrificial layer”. The concept may be extended or any number of cooking methods where that which is used in promotion of cooking could be discarded or selected for its separating or insulation properties.


  1. Tahdig (Persian: ته دیگ‎‎, tah "bottom" + dīg "pot") is a specialty of Iranian cuisine consisting of crisp rice taken from the bottom of the pot in which the rice (chelow) is cooked. It is traditionally served to guests at a meal. Ingredients commonly added to tahdig include yogurt and saffron, bread, potato and tomato. Variations of tahdig include placing thin vegetable slices  at the bottom of the pot, so they crisp up instead of the rice. Common vegetables include potato, carrots, and lettuce. Iranians also apply this crisping method to spaghetti as well, providing a hardened base. [ From Wikipedia]

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