That Crunch! The golden crust formed at the bottom of a rice pot is called Tahdig. I am going to teach you to make Persian rice that is fluffy, aromatic, flavorful and hearty. Some people made sourdough during Covid, I became obsessed with making Iranian long grain rice. I think it took me 30 tries until the steamed fluffy rice had the perfect crispy bottom. Persian rice with Tahdig is the amazing reward for cooking the rice in several steps while focusing on key variables which result in the best rice in the world. This dish goes great with any menu, especially stews. I love to mix and match cuisines and I recently paired it with my Italian Vegan Chicken Piccata.Jump to Recipe
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Tahdig translated in Persian means “bottom of the pot”. Your family will literally fight for the savored, crunchy goodness that is fun to eat. Every meal you serve, this rice it is guaranteed to be elevated to a "wow" when brought to the table. No one will understand how you got the rice to be so flavorful, fluffy, and light. The addition of infused saffron adds a magical color and beautiful aroma to the rice. If you've never made chelow steamed rice before with Tahdig, I have you covered! This rice is the gem of Persian cuisine.
Ingredients and Equipment You'll Need
- Basmati extra long-grain rice - Choosing the Right grain of Rice is key to this dish. Persians only use Basmati rice because the grains separate which allows it to hold its shape and not get mushy.
- I buy my rice in bulk in middle eastern stores. Pakistan and India have the best basmati rice outside of Iran.
- Large Non-stick pot - This is crucial when you are flipping the rice out of the pan onto the plate. You also need a large pot to give the rice room to expand when par boiling.
- Saffron - Infusing saffron into this rice adds aroma, color, and flavor.
- Neutral Oil - I use neutral oil because I do not like to impart taste into the rice.
PREPARE THE TAHDIG AND COOK THE RICE
Making this recipe might seem intimidating but it's actually quite easy and can be broken into 6 steps. The only ingredients are rice, water, oil, saffron, and salt.
1) Wash Rice - Wash and rinse the rice at least 5 times until the water is clear. This will help remove extra starch in rice.
2) Soaking - Soak the rice in water and salt for 2 hours. Strain the rice.
3) Par cook the rice - In a large non-stick pot add the salt to boiling water. Reduce to medium heat so not to overflow the water. Cook for about 8 minutes. The rice will float to the top.
4) Drain - Using a colander, strain the rice.
5) Final Steaming - Pour the vegetable oil on the bottom of the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the saffron oil mixture. Place enough rice on the bottom of the pot to form a thin layer. Pat down the rice with a wide spatula or the back of a spoon. Place the rest of the rice on top. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke 5-6 holes in the rice so the steam escapes. This prevent the rice from becoming sticky. Place the rest of the saffron mixture in the holes and around the edge of the top of the rice.
6) Crunchy Tahdig - Cover the lid with a towel or use paper towels and place it on the pot. Cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low heat and steam the rice for another 30 minutes until it's cooked.
Flip the rice on a flat serving plate!
- Make sure you rinse the rice well. Do not skip this step.
- Resist the temptation to open the lid during the steaming process.
- Use only a non stick pot to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
- Potato Tahdig Is made with golden sliced potatoes placed at the bottom of the pot.
- You can use olive oil or any type of oil you prefer
- The type of rice you use is important . You must use extra long basmati rice.
- I always choose an oil like canola or safflower because I do not want the oil flavor to impart on the rice. The oil is key to crisping the rice.
- If you don’t have saffron you can use turmeric for the golden color.
Chelow steamed rice can be stored in an air-tight large container in the fridge for up to five days. To reheat, sprinkle a few drops of water over the rice and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.
Alternatively, you can place the rice in a covered tray for 10 minutes
The rice should be soft on the edges and firm in the middle. It should not be completely cooked.
Yes, after soaking you can use a rice cooker but it will not have the Tahdig crunch. You can put 4 cups of water to 3 cups of rice. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 5 tablespoons of neutral oil and cook on white rice setting.
Persian Steamed Rice (chelo) with Tahdig
- 4 cups long-grain basmati rice
- 3 tablespoons salt
- water to soak rice
- Par boil
- water to boil the rice
- 1 teaspooon saffron threads crushed
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil for saffron water
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil for bottom of pot
- Wash the rice grains in a large bowl with cold water and drain. Repeat until the water runs clear (approximately 5 times).
- Cover the drained rice with water and add 3 tablespoons of salt, let sit for 2 hours.
- Drain rice in a colander.
- Fill a large nonstick saucepan with a bit more than ½ way with water and bring the water to a boil.
- Add the rice and stir, then add 2 tablespoons of salt. Lower the heat to a rolling boil and cook the rice for 6-8 minutes, or until the rice grains are parboiled. They will float to the top.
- Drain the rice in a colander.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron strands in the hot water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Let this bloom for 10 minutes.
- Place 2 tablespoons of oil on the bottom of the saucepan and place enough rice to cover the bottom of the pot in a thin layer. Pat down with back of the spoon.
- Add the rest of the parboiled rice to the pot.
- Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke 5-6 holes in the rice.
- Pour the saffron water mixture in the holes and around the edges of the rice.
- Flatten the edges of the rice around the perimeter with the wooden spoon.
- Cook on medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes. You will hear the rice sizzling. You know this is done when the crackling stops.
- Turn the heat to medium low and let it steam for 30 minutes or until done.
- You can serve this as cake or you can transfer the rice to a flat serving platter, forming it into a pyramid shape.
We hope you love this recipe! Please send us your photos or any questions.