Crispy Tahdig with Saffron and Turmeric Rice

Who would say no to tender rice infused with saffron and turmeric with a crunchy, crispy top? Tahdig is one of my favorite dishes because of varying flavors and textures as well as the customizations you can make to suit different tastes.

Despite the variations of scorched rice dishes that exist throughout the world, we’ll be making a simple Tahdig that can be personalized with sides or toppings that you see fit. Although this dish may look simple, it requires a lot of attention to detail and a watchful eye to get just right and may require some trial runs until you can best gauge how your stove and pans affect the cooking process. 

Necessary Ingredients

  • 2 cups white long-grain rice (Basmati is best)
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron strands
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Pro Tip: Ensure the pan you use has a tight-fitting lid, as it’s crucial to the cooking process. To ensure a crispy and uniform crust, make sure to use the leftover rice water when infusing the saffron as it will help the rice bind together to form the Tahdig.

Cooking Process

  1. Rinse the rice, stirring in circular motions and draining the cloudy water. Continue to rinse and drain until the water is clear.
  2. Fill the bowl of rice with water again to cover and add in about two pinches of salt, stirring once to incorporate. Allow the rice to soak in a bowl for about 15 – 20 minutes.
  3. Boil 4 cups of water in a large pot. Once at a boil, drain your rice and add it to the pot of boiling water. Allow the rice to cook, uncovered, in the pot for 7 and a half minutes. The rice should be beginning to fluff on the outside but remain hard at the center of the grain.
  4. Take 3 tablespoons of the rice water and set it aside in a bowl before draining the rice and rinsing it under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  5. Thoroughly grind the pinch of saffron strands, either with your hands or with a pestle and mortar, and add it to the hot rice water set aside, stirring to dissolve.
  6. Put a medium-ish (10.5+ inch) sized pan on the stove at medium-high heat. Once warm, add the olive oil, turmeric, and saffron water. Swirl the oil and spice mixture around the skillet several times until the sides of the pan are covered thoroughly and then add the rinsed rice.
  7. Gently shape the rice to be in a flat layer in the pan (do not compress) and using the handle of a spoon, poke several holes throughout the rice (ensuring not to poke too far down that you reach the bottom of the pan) and cook uncovered for 10 minutes on medium heat; toward the end of the 10 minutes, you should see steam rising from the pan of rice.
  8. Wrap the lid of your pan in a towel and place it on the pan to ensure that the moisture is sealed inside. Allow the rice to cook for about 25 minutes on medium-high heat and listen to the pan: if the rice inside is crackling and you hear a sizzling sound then uncover and check to see if the sides of your tahdig are crusted, if you do not hear a crackling sound, continue to cook on medium-high for 10 more minutes or until you do.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the lid. To make the transfer from pan to plate easier, I place the pan on a potholder, place a plate on top of the pan, and quickly flip.
Rice layered in the pan with holes poked to ensure release of steam.

I love Tahdig as is or with a mint and yogurt dolloped on top, but you can serve it with a variety of different toppings and sides from cherries to tomatoes. Although it’s rice, Tahdig is considered an entree and is a tasty and beautiful dish to serve for lunch or dinner.


I hope you enjoy; sahtein! 

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