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.
2tbsp grape seed oil,or any healthy neutral-tasting oil of your choice
1cup dried cherries, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 to 8tbsp unsalted butter,cubed (see note #1)
3tbsp pistachios,roughly chopped for garnish
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 tbsp 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 tbsp 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.
This recipe is adapted from Eating Out Loud (affiliate link) by Eden Grinchpan.
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.
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