My Tahchin recipe accents the floral notes of saffron with orange, rose water, barberries, and golden raisins. Baked into a tantalizing rice cake with a crispy, crunchy crust, it’s a uniquely delicious Middle Eastern dish that will wow your dinner crowd.
Want to learn a new Middle Eastern dish? This tahchin recipe is deceptively easy to make, and has a unique mixture of ingredients that you may have never used before.
In this Persian saffron rice dish, you combine deep Middle Eastern flavors with basmati rice and bake them into a golden rice cake. The star of this dish is the bloomed saffron mixed into a rich yogurt sauce that coats each grain.
Don’t let the floral and fruity ingredients fool you- this cake is not a dessert! It’s predominantly savory. The saffron, barberries, and golden raisins add a sweet floral note that isn’t at all overpowering.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Finely Ground Saffron - This essential Persian seasoning has a floral sweetness. Grind using a mortar and pestle if you can. Otherwise, grind with your hands.
- Orange Zest - Sweet and citrusy, it goes well with the saffron, rose water, fruit, and yogurt.
- Basmati- This is the best rice to use to form a solid rice cake. It is long grained and becomes even longer when cooked.
- Dried Barberries - Barberries are sour and become milder when cooked. Dried, tart cherries or cranberries make a great substitute.
- Golden Raisins - Also known as sultanas, these are both sweeter and juicer than your average purple raisin.
- Large Egg Yolks - Fatty and golden, yellow egg yolks will add body and flavor to the sauce.
- Whole Milk Yogurt - This forms the body of the sauce. Do not substitute this ingredient with Greek yogurt, as it is much too thick.
- Vegetable Oil - is an integral ingredient in the yogurt sauce, and used to coat the pan to make sure the tahdig (crispy bottom) does not stick. This is vital to ensuring the cake stays in one piece!
- (Optional) Rose Water - It pairs beautifully with the floral saffron and enhances the aroma of the dish.
Video: Making Tahchin
Making this dish is fun and easy! Watch the video in the recipe card below to see it in action.
HOW TO MAKE BASMATI RICE FOR TAHCHIN
1. Rinse and Boil. Bring your water to a rolling boil and stir in ¼ cup of salt. While the water is boiling, rinse the basmati with warm water and a strainer until the water runs clear. Add the rinsed basmati to the water and stir regularly to keep it from sticking. Once the rice rises and becomes tender but still slightly firm, drain and rinse it with cold water.
Be careful when working with saffron. The natural color can stain fabric, counter tops, and even your skin.
HOW TO MAKE TAHCHIN
1. Prepare Seasonings. In a large bowl, combine the saffron with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Let sit until its color turns into a deep red. Zest an orange for 1 teaspoon.
2. Prepare Fruit. In a skillet on medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the barberries and golden raisins. Once plumped and warmed, remove from the heat and add the orange zest and optional rose water.
3. Create the Yogurt Sauce. Drop the egg yolks, yogurt, oil, and salt into the saffron and combine thoroughly. Fold in the basmati, ensuring it becomes coated.
4. Pack the Pan. Coat your pan with oil and add half of the basmati, packing it onto the bottom. Top with half of the fruit mixture, and firmly pack the remaining basmati on top.
5. Bake. Cover the pan and place on a rack in the lower third of an oven preheated to 400°F. Bake for 65-75 minutes, until the bottom and edges are golden brown. Remove, uncover, and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
6. Separate and Serve. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Cover with a plate and flip upside down to remove the cake. Arrange the leftover fruit on top, slice, and serve.
What is in tahchin?
Ingredients vary from recipe to recipe. Generally speaking, it is rice coated in a yogurt sauce and baked in a dish to form a cake. It always has a crunchy crust (tahdig), regardless of the seasonings and ingredients used. It is sometimes made with chicken, and is usually seasoned with saffron.
What kind of pan should I use to cook tahchin?
I use a 10” glass pie dish. Yours does not have to be the same shape or size, but be sure to use a glass baking dish. This will allow you to check on the color of the dish as it bakes so that you can take it out as soon as it’s nicely golden and prevent it from burning.
Are tahchin and tahdig the same?
Almost, but not quite! Tahchin is the name of the Persian saffron rice cake as a whole, while tahdig is the term for the crispy, golden bottom layer.
Can I prepare the tahchin and refrigerate before baking?
Yes. You can combine the basmati and the yogurt sauce up to a day in advance. Once you’re ready to bake it, let sit out for 30 minutes or so before popping it in the oven.
Crispy Tachin Saffron Rice + Video
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads finely ground
- 1 orange zest
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup dried barberries chopped (or 1 cup dried tart cherries)
- 2 teaspoon golden raisins (sultanas), chopped
- 1 teaspoon rose water optional
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt not Greek, too thick
- ½ cup vegetable oil plus more for greasing dish
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Grind the saffron threads in the palm of your hand, or in a mortar and pestle (preferred). Mix with 2 tablespoons of warm water in a large bowl. Let sit and allow saffron to bloom and draw out as much color as possible. It should be a deep ruby red.
- Zest 1 teaspoon of the orange and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add ¼ cup salt and stir.
- Place rice in a strainer or sieve and rinse with lukewarm water, swishing rice around with your fingers to get rid of excess starch. Continue to rinse until water runs clear.
- Add rice to boiling water and stir to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice begins to rise to the top and is tender but still has a slight bite to it, 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook barberries and golden raisins stirring often, until plumped slightly and warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest and rose water.
- Preheat oven to 400°F and place rack in lower third of oven.
- Add the egg yolks, yogurt, oil, and salt to the saffron and mix well with spatula. Add rice to yogurt mixture and gently fold in to ensure every grain is coated.
- Coat a 10" diameter glass pie dish with oil (glass lets you check on the color from underneath). Add half of rice mixture and use the spatula to gently pack the rice into dish. Scatter half of fruit mixture over and top with remaining rice. Press down again, this time more firmly.
- Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until rice on the bottom and around edges is a deep golden brown, 65–75 minutes. Discard foil and let cool 10 minutes.
- Loosen the rice around the edges using the point of a knife. Place a large plate on top and invert rice onto plate like a cake. Scatter remaining fruit mixture over top. Slice and serve.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.