Vegetarian Tahcheen: Eggplant and Mushroom Baked Rice

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How do I describe tahcheen? A persian lasagna? Or shepherds pie? Tahdig on steroids? It’s basically this insanely delicious rice dish with yogurt saffron rice, tons of crispy tahdig and a filling.

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In this case the filling  is a mixture of eggplant and mushrooms but you could  really do whatever filling you want.   Or skip one of the filling ingredients by just doing eggplant or just doing mushroom.

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This recipe seems elaborate but it’s actually pretty full proof and comes together quickly.  I’d argue this is easier to learn than a traditional tahdig and the result is a full meal.

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Serve with a little Shirazi Salad and Mast-O Musir… maybe some Barbari Bread and you are in for a serious treat.

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You’ll need

For rice

  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • Salt
  • 2 egg yolks (ideally at room temp)
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in four tablespoons of hot water
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

For filling

  • 3 medium eggplants (about 1.25 lbs) cut lengthwise into 0.5” slices
  • Salt/pep
  • Grape seed or olive oil
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms (stems removed), chopped into large chunks
  • 5 tsp turmeric
  • 5 tsp ground allspice
  • 5 tsp ground cumin

For filling

  • 1 tbls unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons dried barberries (or chopped cranberries)
  • 0.25 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

 

To Make:

  1. 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 lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons salt to the bowl and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tsp salt. Add rice and cook 4-5 minutes over medium heat.  Taste test; rice should be soft on outside but still slightly hard in middle.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange eggplant slices in single layer.  Brush with oil and salt.  Bake until golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes, flipping slices halfway through.  Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of oil with 1 tbsp of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 10 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, turmeric, allspice, cumin, 1 tsp salt and 0.5 tsp pepper and sauté one minute.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl beat egg yolks with yogurt, saffron water, 0.5 tsp salt and pinch pepper.  Fold in rice.
  6. Grease a 10 cup (8X11) glass dish with 1 tbsp butter. Spoon half of rice into dish and press down evenly.  Arrange eggplant over rice (1-2 layers).  Scatter mushroom mixture on top of eggplant.  Finish with the remaining rice.  Dot with 1 tbsp of butter and wrap tightly with foil.  Bake for hour and 45 minutes.
  7. When the dish is almost done cooking line a baking sheet with a wet dish towel.  Remove the dish from oven and place on the damp surface for 5 minutes without uncovering it (this way the tahdig will come off easier).
  8. Meanwhile, make garnish. Melt butter in small frying pan.  Add barberries, pistachio and sugar and sauté for 2 minutes.
  9. To serve, run a knife around side of tahcheen to separate from dish. Place a large board over the top and quickly invert the whole thing. Garnish with sprinkling of barberry/pistachio mixture.

 

 Inspired azcookbook

 

 

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