Like socarrat in Spain to nurunji in Korea, the crunchy layer on the bottom of the rice pot is a prize in cultures all over the world. Tahdig is the most glorious version I have had. Intentional in technique with the added golden touch of saffron and the separate, flaky grains of basmati rice, Tahdig tastes even better than it looks.
Tahdig (Crispy Persian Golden Rice)
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Place the rice back into a bowl and cover with at least 1” of water and soak for 1 hour and drain in a fine mesh strainer.
In a large pot, bring 4 qts of water to boil.
In a small bowl, steep the saffron with hot water for 5 minutes, then add the labne to make a bright yellow mixture.
When ready, add the rice to the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, stirring in the beginning to prevent sticking. Strain again into the fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water to cool completely.
Leave to drain well for 10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and season with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and salt.
Add 2 cups of the seasoned, cooked rice to the saffron labne mixture and stir well to combine.
Heat a 10” nonstick pan over medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Layer the saffron rice mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Add the remaining seasoned rice on top. Smooth the layer over evenly but gently to avoid packing the rice. The result will be fluffy and crisp instead of dense and tough.
Poke 5 holes with the end of a wooden spoon through the rice to allow steam to escape.
Wrap a lid for the pan with a tea towel. The towel absorbs any excess moisture while steaming.
Continue cooking, covered, on medium-low heat for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the rice is cooked through. Turn the pan 180 degrees halfway through cooking to ensure an even crust.
When ready, turn off the heat and remove the lid.
Cover the pan with a flat platter, holding it firmly against the pan and with a good grip of the handle with the opposite hand.
In one swift movement, turn the pan and platter over.
Set the platter down and remove the pan. Tada!
The crispy rice also works well with leftover rice. For a simple version, heat a nonstick pan with butter and oil. Crumble and layer in the cold, leftover rice and cover the pan with a lid. Heat on low heat until the bottom is crispy and the rice is heated through.
Tahdig can also have garnishes and vegetables in the rice like the Crispy Persian Vegetable Rice.
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