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 adapted and simplified a recipe from Eden Grinspahn's cookbook Eating Out Loud, and once you try this easy Persian rice recipe you will come back for more!

What is tahdig?

Tahdig, pronounced tah-deeg, literally means "bottom of the pot" in Persian/Farsi. 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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4.86 from 107 votes

Tahdig Recipe (Crispy Persian Rice)

Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish. In the kitchenSuzy 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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4.86 from 107 votes (71 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Mary says:

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday for our Easter dinner. A friend used to bring it to our Easter party but she passed away and we miss her Persian rice! I have never made it myself but your instructions were so good and it came out perfect. My family all enjoyed it! The only thing I did differently was to cook my rice in the instant pot, I cooked it 7 minutes with 2 cups rice and 2 cups water. The rice did not need to be drained this way and it still came out very good! Thank you so much!

    1. Suzy says:

      I'm so glad to to hear that, Mary! Thanks for sharing your Instant Pot tip!

    2. Renee Hanley says:

      The point of following the recipe and boiling then draining the rice is that you are par-boiling the rice, not cooking it, since you are keeping it on the stove for 30+ minutes to crisp the rice afterwards.

  2. David says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe and instructions! I used chopped dates instead of cherries, and I cooked the rice in saffron water too! Came out great!

    1. Suzy says:

      Thanks for sharing your adaptations, David! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  3. Cole Bailey says:

    3 stars
    Overall the recipient was pretty good but the cooking times were extremely confusing

  4. F.Mo says:

    Hello!!! I'm writing from Colombia, and I really want to try this recipe. Could you please tell me how many grams is a cup equivalent to?

    1. Suzy says:

      Hello! According to my quick internet search 1 cups = approx. 200 grams. Hope that helps!!

    2. Terri says:

      5 stars
      Very flavorful and relatively easy. Perfect Tadig after 45 minutes. Thank you for sharing!

      1. Suzy says:

        So glad you enjoyed it, Terri!

  5. Kelly says:

    5 stars
    I made this tahdig and your recipe for greek marinated chicken last night for the first time and the whole family loved it. I didn't quite accomplish the crispy crust but it was still delicious. I'll keep trying!
    I'd been having a rough day and after sitting down to such a wonderful meal, it literally turned my whole day around :). Thank you!!

    1. Suzy says:

      I'm so glad to hear that, Kelly!

  6. Susan says:

    Hello,
    Can I ask what the purpose of using yogurt? I've seen recipes with and without to make tadhig. Thank you!

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Susan! I feel it really helps me achieve that golden, crispy crust.

  7. Cathe says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! I’ve tried others, and this one is by far the best!

    1. Suzy says:

      Thank you 🙂

  8. Richard says:

    Will try to make this recipe..it presents well in the picture. Is the 1 Tsp of Saffron measurement correct, because that is like $10 worth of saffron threads?

    1. Suzy says:

      Yes, 1 tsp is correct here.

  9. Cary says:

    Suzy, do you use a stock pot for this? In worry that is is too deep and the tahdig might crumble apart when removing.

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Cary! I used a 10-inch nonstick pot with a lid here.

  10. georgia says:

    Hi

    Would it still work if I swapped the yoghurt and butter for a dairy free alternative? really want to try this and I have a few vegan relatives. Also, could you recommend an alternative to dried cherries incase I'm unable to get them?

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Georgia! I have never tried making Tahdig with dairy free alternatives, so I really can't advise on that one. As for the cherries, you can substitute the cherries with any other dried fruit that is readily available that you enjoy. Hope that helps!

  11. karen says:

    I would love to make a big batch and have a Persian feast someday, once it is safe to do so!

    1. Suzy says:

      That sounds lovely, Karen!

  12. Tanya Jallad says:

    5 stars
    I will share with my family. They love rice especially basmati rice.

    1. Cynthia says:

      I just read The Stationary Shop by Marian Kamala, which is a poignant love story with Iran in the 1950s as a backdrop. Persian food is mentioned many times which made me decide to search for some recipes. I am sure I would like rice fixed this way, so will try this recipe. But first, must purchase the liquid gold.

      1. Suzy says:

        So glad you were inspired to give this recipe a try! Hope you love it!!

  13. Kristen H. says:

    Oh, this looks so delicious! What a perfect way to round out a meal this winter when we're craving comfort foods.

    1. Suzy says:

      Yes! This is definitely comfort food material!!

  14. Connie says:

    5 stars
    Suzy, at first I skimmed through the recipe and felt a little intimidated. Took a few moments and, your recipes have never let me down, so figured "what the heck" and gave it a try. This was the MOST delicious rice dish ever, flavors were absolutely perfect. I used dried cranberries and tasted quite good. I served with lamb shanks. Only one regret: I wished that I had doubled the recipe!!!

    1. Suzy says:

      I'm so happy you gave it a try!! Well done! Don't let recipes intimidate you... sometimes it can be a bit of trial and error, but that is half the fun!

  15. Kathy L. McGuire says:

    5 stars
    Looking forward to trying this dish. So simple but so elegant.

  16. VICKI YOCUM says:

    I look forward to trying this recipe. All of your recipes are fantastic!

    1. Suzy says:

      Oh, thank you so much, Vicki!

      1. Mohammad Sadegh Aslanpour says:

        Thank you for the Persian food.
        Actually, it's better to call it Tahchin. It has also some ingredients at the middle. Like a stew at the middle layer.