This famous Persian preparation celebrates crispy and golden toasted rice, inverted onto a plate to show it off. To make it even more special, half of the parcooked rice is mixed with yogurt and saffron, which ensures a beautifully enriched, toasted bottom. A perfect crust is the sign of an accomplished cook, and if you’re a beginner, know that your technique will only improve with experience.
Tahdig (Persian Crispy Rice)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (n/a)
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1/4 cup labne
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Wash the rice in a large bowl of cold water by swirling it with your hand, then pour off the water while keeping the rice in the bowl. Repeat until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with room-temperature water and soak for 1 hour. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve.
- In a large pot, bring 16 cups water to a boil. In a medium bowl, steep the saffron in the 2 tablespoons of hot water for 5 minutes, then stir in the labne.
- Once the water boils, add the rice and cook until about one-third of the way cooked through (break a few grains to test), about 5 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse the rice under cold water until completely cool. Leave to drain for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.
- Transfer the drained rice to a large bowl and fold in the melted butter and salt. Add 2 cups of the rice to the bowl with the saffron-labne mixture and stir well to combine.
- To assemble, use a 10-inch nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the oil to the skillet and heat over medium-low heat, uncovered, just until the butter melts. Turn off the heat.
- Very gently put the saffron-rice mixture into the skillet in a flat, even layer. Avoid packing and pressing the rice so the end result is fluffy and crisp, not dense and tough.
- Add the remaining rice on top and gently smooth it into a flat, even layer, taking care not to pat or compact the rice. Poke five deep holes in the rice with the end of a wooden spoon to allow steam to escape (but avoid poking holes all the way to the bottom). Wrap the lid with a clean towel, tying the ends on top.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, giving the skillet a half-turn (180 degrees) halfway through to ensure even browning, until the crust is golden brown and the rice is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and uncover. Hold a larger, flat plate firmly against the skillet with one hand and grip the handle with the other hand. In one swift movement, turn the skillet and plate over together. Set the platter down to reveal the golden crust. (If your crust is not very golden, return it to the pan to cook for another 5 minutes, then check again.) Serve immediately.