Traditional Persian steamed rice with crispy potato tahdig does require an overnight soak the day before you want to make it. It also steams over low heat for an hour so plan accordingly, but know your patience will be rewarded: the crispy Persian rice with poatoes is hearty, flavorful, and stunningly beatuiful .
¼teaspoonground saffron (or about 14 whole threads)
2tablespoonskosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Rinse and soak the rice: Rinse 2 cups of rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water two inches above the rice. Leave to soak overnight.
Prepare the potato: Prior to cooking the rice, peel and slice enough ½-inch-thick potato slices to cover the bottom of your pan. Place the sliced potatoes into a bowl of water and leave until ready to use.
Bloom the saffron: If you're using whole saffron threads, place in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind into a fine powder. Put ¼ teaspoon of the ground saffron into a medium-sized bowl. (You will add rice to it later.) Add 3 tablespoons of water and set aside. The saffron will infuse the water and “bloom.”
Parboil the rice: In a large non-stick pot with high sides, combine 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir, and cook until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn heat off. Drain the rice, rinse out the pot you cooked the rice in and place the pot back on the stove.
Prepare the Tahdig layer: Drain the potato slices and dry them with a paper towel. Sprinkle a little salt on the potatoes. Pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable or grapeseed oil into the pot. Layer the potato slices on the bottom of the pot, ensuring they do not overlap.
Layer the rice: Take 1 cup of cooked rice and add it to the bloomed saffron. Mix until it’s fully coated and golden. Layer over the potato slices in the pot and pat down flat with the back of the spoon. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then layer with the white rice and drizzle with a little olive oil. Pat the rice firmly down and poke 5 holes evenly across with the handle of the spoon. Pour 2 tablespoons of water over the rice.
Steam the rice: Put the lid on the saucepan and turn the heat to high. Once steam starts to rise, reduce heat to the lowest setting. Take a tea towel, wrap it around the lid, and place it back on the pot. Steam for 1 hour on low heat.
Serve the rice: Remove the lid, invert a large serving plate over the pot, and carefully flip them over together. The rice and tahdig should come out like a cake. Don’t worry if the tahdig sticks, just scrape it out and arrange it around the rice on the serving plate.
Use a nonstick pan so you don’t have to worry about sticking when you flip it onto a plate, revealing your beautiful work.
If your rice does still stick, you can reassemble it carefully with your hands