Chelow with Tahdig- Persian Rice with Crispy Crust

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Alright everybody buckle up it’s time for some traditional Persian rice.  I’ve made short cut versions of this dish and, while delicious, they are nowhere on this level.

I’m going to be straight with you, this is a labor of love. The whole process starts the day before you’re going to eat it so plan ahead.   It’s not difficult, but it’s a production. And worth every grain of rice.

This would be great served with Khoresh Gheymeh or Ghormeh Sabzi- two Persian stews (check out my vegan versions). This would also be legit with fish- especially with the Persian New Year around the corner (recipe example here).

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You’ll need:

For Rice

  • 4 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon rose water

For Tahdig (crunchy rice at bottom of the pot/heaven)

  • 0.75 cup oil, I used grape seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in four tablespoons of hot water
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

 

To Make:

  1. Remove any weird pieces you might see in the rice.  Place rice in large container and cover with lukewarm water.  Run your hands over the rice then pour off the water (you don’t need to go psycho draining the water because you’re going to do this again).  Repeat this water/hand movement situation five times.  This is to clean the rice and you can’t skip this step- it is key to the texture/fragrance/persianess of the dish.  After you’ve done that add 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons salt to the bowl and leave to soak for 24 hours.  This will help the rice from sticking together/makes it legit.
  2. Okay now in an ideally 5-quart, 11.25” diameter by 3.25” deep, non-stick pot bring 10 cups of water to a boil over high heat.  The dimensions can be a little off but it needs to be non-stick.  This is not the time for fancy Le Crueset cast iron pan this is your TJ Maxx non-stick trusted skillet.  Add the 2 tablespoons of sea salt and 1 tablespoon rose water.  Now, drain your rice that’s been soaking for 24 hours (you might want to use a fine mesh strainer) and add to the boiling water.  Boil rice on high heat for 6-10 minutes, gently stirring twice with a wooden spoon to make sure nothing has stuck to the bottom.  Test the grain, if it’s soft and rising to the top, drain the rice (using fine mesh strainer) and rinse with cold water.
  3. Now it’s tahdig time.  Combine 0.5 cup oil, 0.25 cup water, 0.5 teaspoon saffron water, 2 tablespoons yogurt and 2 cups of rice in a bowl.  Spread this mixture on the bottom of the pot evenly and pack it down using your hands.
  4. Take 2/3 cup of the drained rice at a time and place on top of the yogurt/rice mixture, shaping the rice into a rough pyramid.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Mix 0.25 cup oil and 0.5 cup water and pour evenly over rice pyramid.  Drizzle the rest of the saffron water on top.  Wrap the bottom of the lid with a clean dish towel  and cover rice firmly (this prevents steam from escaping).  Cook for 70 minutes over low heat.
  6. When the rice is almost done cooking line a baking sheet with a wet dish towel.  Remove the pot from heat and place on the damp surface for 5 minutes without uncovering it (this way the tahdig will come off easier).
  7. Remove the lid and place a large serving platter (mine wasn’t the right size but I made it work) over the pot.  Flip the pot with the platter on it upside down inverting the rice onto the platter.  Ideally, the tahdig stays one piece but it is perfectly respectable if it breaks into a few pieces.  Tahdah! You did it!

Inspired by FoodofLife

 

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