Have you ever wanted to make Tahdig Persian Rice with that perfectly crispy golden crust? This recipe and step-by-step tutorial is all you need! And I have lots of ideas for what to serve along! 

Persian rice tahdig, garnished with dried cherries and pistachios

Tahdig has been on my list to make for while. And I'm happy to report it is easier to make than I thought! And if you ever wanted an impressive and unique dish for a special dinner, this Persian style rice with golden crust will not disappoint.

I used a recipe from Eden Grinspahn's new book Eating Out Loud (affiliate link), with some very slight modifications.

What is tahdig?

Tahdig, pronounced tah-deeg, literally means "bottom of the pot" in Persian. And it refers to a beautiful, pan-fried Persian rice that is fluffy and buttery on the inside with a perfectly golden crust, which is the layer at the bottom of the pot. It's beautifully laced with saffron and often scented with orange zest like in today's recipe.

In her new book Eating Out Loud (affiliate link), Eden describes making tahdig this way:

You're basically building a rice "cake" with layers of rice, yogurt, and butter. It gets cooked in a tightly covered pan, where the steam cooks the rice while the outside crisps. Then it's turned upside down out of the pan on a platter, where--if you've done your job right--the crispy outside bits hold the moist inside like a mold.

Tip: Don't be a hero, use a nonstick pot. Makes all the difference!

Tahdig Persian crispy rice with saffron

What kind of rice to use for Persian rice?

The kind of rice used is important. My Iranian friends only use Basmati rice (affiliate) for all their Persian rice dishes, and it's what is used in this recipe.

Two steps to prepare the rice for this tahdig recipe:

  • Wash the basmati rice very well under cold running water until the water runs clear. Some folks even soak it for a bit, but that is not required today.
  • Par-boil the rice. You'll boil the rice with plenty of water and cook to al dante for 5 minutes or so before you assemble and make the tahdig.

The crust

The crust is where it's at! It's what makes this Persian rice recipe extra special.

What makes the crust? There are different tahdig variations when it comes to acheiving that perfectly crispy, golden crust. Some use a layer of flat lavash bread at the bottom of the pot, while other recipes may use a layer of thinly sliced potatoes. But it's the third method I wanted to try...

In this recipe, the curst is made of a mixture of rice, whole milk yogurt, and saffron. The extra fat from just two tablespoons of whole milk yogurt really helps the bottom layer of rice crisp up nicely, while the above layer of rice gets steamed to fluffy perfection.

ingredients for persian rice tahdig

How to make tahdig: step-by-step

(print-friendly recipe with ingredient list below)

  • Soak the saffron. 1 teaspoon of saffron goes in 1 cup of super warm water (but not hot). Leave it be for at least 10 minutes. It's important to give the saffron enough time in the water to bloom and release it's beautiful color, so that's why I start with this step.
  • Wash the rice and boil the rice. Like I mentioned earlier, you'll want to wash 2 cups basmati rice so well until the water runs clean. Then combine the rice with 8 cups of water and a good pinch of salt (the original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons as this is your only shot to season the rice itself, but I used 1 tablespoon). Boil for about 5 to 6 minutes, then drain well.
  • Prepare the rice, yogurt, saffron mixture. Take 1 cup of the rice and mix it super well with 2 tablespoons of yogurt, 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or another neutral-tasting oil) and 2 tablespoons of the saffron water.

basmati rice mixed with yogurt and saffron water

  • Assemble the tahdig in a nonstick pot. Spread the rice-yogurt mixture in bottom of the pot (this is what makes the crust). Use a 10-inch lidded nonstick pot here. Add 1 cup of the remaining rice on top, then 2 tablespoons of dried cherries, a little orange zest, and a pinch of cinnamon. Continue layering in this way until you have used up the rice (keep some of the dried cherries for garnish later). Dot the top layer o rice with the butter (the original recipe called for 8 tablespoons of butter, cubed, but for us 4 to 5 tablespoons was sufficient). Pour the rest of the saffron water on top.

rice layered with orange zest, cinnamon and dried cherries and butter.  ready to cook

  • Cook the tahdig. To really trap the steam, do as my Persian friends do, wrap the lid of the pot in a thin kitchen towel. Use a rubber band to secure the towel around the handle (a little safety measure). Cover the pot and cook over low heat, 25 to 30 minutes or until the rice around the edges is golden and crispy (mine took more like 50 minutes for the bottom layer to fully crisp up and fully develop the golden color you see. I also ended up raising the heat a little bit to medium-low for a bit). Keep an eye and peek under the lid to make sure the bottom layer crisps nicely but does not burn (this is really all the TLC you need to do and it makes a difference).
  • Flip the cooked tahdig over and serve. Remove the lid from the cooking pot and invert a large serving platter over the pot and carefully flip the pot over (the bottom crispy layer will now be on top). Although the nonstick pot helps a ton, don't worry if some of the rice sticks to the bottom, just help it with a wooden spoon and run with it! Garnish with dried cherries and pistachios. Serve!

tahdig served with dried cherries and pistachios for garnish

  • Serve. Remove the lid, invert a large serving plate over the pot, and carefully flip them over together. No worries if it sticks, just scrape it out and run with it! Sprinkle the tahdig with the reserved dried cherries and pistachios and serve right away.

What to serve with tahdig?

This crispy saffron rice can elevate any number of entrees. Here are some ideas for what to serve along:

 

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4.87 from 102 votes

Tahdig Recipe (Crispy Persian Rice)

Suzy Karadsheh
Persian rice tahdig, garnished with dried cherries and pistachios
Tahdig, pronounced tah-deeg, literally means "bottom of the pot" in Persian. And it refers to a beautiful, pan-fried Persian rice that is fluffy and buttery on the inside with a perfectly golden crust, which is the layer at the bottom of the pot. This tahdig is laced with saffron and scented with orange zest. Be sure to use a nonstick pan for this recipe. Step-by-step photos and more tips in the post.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 40 minutes
Cuisine:
Persian
Serves – 8 people
Course:
Side Dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 cups basmati rice like Royal Basmati Rice (affiliate link)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon whole milk yogurt (Greek or otherwise)
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil, or any healthy neutral-tasting oil of your choice
  • 1 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 to 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed (see note #1)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Mix the saffron into 1 cup very warm (but not hot) water. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the saffron release all of its flavor.
  • In a sieve, rinse the rice under cool running water until the water almost runs clear.
  • In a large pot, combine 8 cups of water and the salt (this is your one shot to season the rice itself). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook until al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the rice.
  • In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the cooked rice, the yogurt, grapeseed oil, and 2 tablespoon of the saffron water. Mix thoroughly.
  • Spread the rice-yogurt mixture evenly on the bottom of a 10-inch lidded nonstick pot. Sprinkle 1 cup of the remaining cooked rice on top, followed by 2 tablespoons of the dried cherries, a pinch of orange zest, and a pinch of cinnamon. Add another layer of rice and repeat with the cherries, orange zest, and cinnamon, reserving a couple tablespoon of the cherries for garnish. As you go about layering, the rice will start to dome and look "pointy" in the middle--that's okay! Keep it that way. Finish by dotting the top with the butter and pour the rest of the saffron water all over the top.
  • Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel and secure it around the handle with a rubber band. Cover the pot and cook over low heat, 25 to 30 minutes or until the rice around the edges is golden and crispy; it's okay to peek under the lid! (See note #2) Be sure not to burn the bottom layer of the rice, though you do want a nice crust in the bottom.
  • Remove the lid, invert a large serving plate over the pot, and carefully flip them over together. No worries if it sticks, just scrape it out and run with it! Sprinkle the tahdig with the reserved dried cherries and pistachios and serve right away.

Notes

  • This recipe is adapted from Eating Out Loud (affiliate link) by Eden Grinchpan.
  • I used Royal Basmati Rice (affiliate link) 
  • Note #1--butter amount: The original recipe indicates 8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) unsalted butter. For me, 4 to 5 tablespoons were sufficient. 
  • Note #2--how long until the bottom layer of rice crisps will vary. My rice took 50 minutes for the bottom layer to crisp, and I did adjust the heat later to medium-low. It's important to keep an eye on the rice and peek under the lid occasionally to make sure the bottom crisps but does not burn. 
  • Visit our shop for quality Mediterranean products including extra virgin olive oils and spices. 

Nutrition

Calories: 314.7kcalCarbohydrates: 48.8gProtein: 5gSaturated Fat: 4.2gCholesterol: 15.3mgPotassium: 82mgFiber: 2.3gVitamin A: 727IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 31.2mgIron: 0.7mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Success despite losing track of the parboil time! This recipe was recommended to me by a family friend with Iranian heritage. As mentioned, it took well longer than 20-25 minutes to get the desired crust, but I peeked a bit at the edges and adjusted the heat accordingly. It really helped that I have a 10" straight-sided non-stick saute pan with cover. I added a few caramelized onions.

  2. 5 stars
    This was absurd delish. Followed recipe to a T. Next time the only thing I would change would be to add a lil salt or chicken bouillon. But it really is fantastic as is. Texture on rice was perfection. Thank you so much. It's a keeper!

  3. I have Sella rice that I have used for biryani as well as traditional/standard Basmati (Both Royal brand). Which would be best for Tahdig?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Sarah. This recipe was developed using the Royal Brand Basmati, so if you have that one had, I would go with it :). Enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe 👌
    Quantity of each ingredient!
    Timing!
    But, from my experience, I added 2 cloves of garlic (minced) with the yogurt.
    Also, when I assembled the dish, I used 100g of butter.
    My rice was delicious 😋 My guests loved it!

  5. Hi every one.
    Thanks for the writer.
    Kindly, I should say that we say Tah dig to those dishes which are made with rice only or with saffron. It's not special meal for us but it is delicious.
    Another recepie with youghurt and egg, it is Tah-chin. It's a special food and it cooks for ceremonies. Indeed we put chicken or lamb meats in the middle of this rice with fried eggplants. It's very delicious

  6. How can you tell if the crust has formed on the bottom without lifting it out. I’m so excited to make this dish!

    1. Surely women have for centuries used pans that weren't non-stick. Any suggestions for people who don't have them or use them? I'd love to make this and your recipe sounds delicious but am leary of making it without adjustments for regular cookware. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

      1. Hi, Lorraine. Some people use a well-seasoned cast iron pan to make tahdig, so you could give that a try. Please note, though, that we have not tested this particular recipe in anything else than a non-stick pan. We fell that is what give the best results here.

  7. Is that 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt a typo that should read teaspoons? That's quite a lot of salt for eight servings.

    1. Hi, Johnny. Tablespoons are correct here. Note, though, that this is Kosher salt. If using table salt, you'll want to use half the amount.

  8. Note the hint about seasoning. I’m not shy with salt but could’ve done with more. Think it would work just as well with golden sultanas. Crust was perfect.

  9. I'd really like to see a video on how to make this rice. The web page had several still photos, an advertisement, a video on how to preserve lemons, but no visuals that were useful. Maybe the link to the video was hidden and I just didn't see it.

    1. Hi, Richard. We don't have a video for this one, quite yet, but we've gotten this request before, so it's on our radar!

  10. 5 stars
    It was fun to make this dish. I was delighted to flip it and find a beautiful golden crust. Presentation was fantastic but the rice itself was a bit sweet.

  11. 5 stars
    So delicious. Whole family raved over it. I have to work on my flip though, the tahdig crumbled off the platter a bit.

  12. 5 stars
    I had this dish many times when it was shared with me by a friend, but it never occurred to me to make it myself! The recipe turned out great. Thanks!

  13. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. Served this with a lentil and eggplant stew, topped with yogurt and it was perfect.