Before I met Peter, I had no idea idea what Persian food was. When he brought me kebabs for the first time, I was in heaven! Never had I tasted such delicious flavours and, oh, that rice! The key to good rice is lots of butter. When Peter and I started dating, I decided to try and make some Persian food at home. It was all trial and error until I finally perfected the dishes. The hardest part was trying to recreate the food to taste exactly the way Peter’s Mum made it. It seems like every family, every region has a different way of making each dish. I do the best I can with the material I have: cookbooks, the internet, and my wonderful sister-in-law and cousin-in-law, Amber and Julia.
Tahdig (tah-deeg) is a special treat that is easily my favourite thing to eat in the entire world. It’s a salty, buttery, crunchy delight!
RICE WITH TAHDIG
- 2 cups white basmati rice
- 5 tbsp butter
- Soak rice in water with a tbsp of salt for at least 2 hours. Drain rice in sieve and rinse with cold water.
- Using a large non-stick pot, bring 8 cups of water with a tbsp of salt to a boil. When water is boiling, add rice and cook for about 7 minutes or until the rice is cooked through, stirring often to make sure rice doesn’t stick together. Drain the rice in a sieve and rinse with lukewarm water.
- While the rice drains in the sieve, rinse out the pot with water and return to heat. Melt 3 tbsp of butter in the bottom of the pot. When the butter is melted, add 2 tbsp of water and swirl the water and butter to combine. Heat mixture over medium heat until it starts bubbling and then sprinkle the mixture with salt.
- Add a couple of spoonfuls of rice to the pot, pressing the rice down to create a compact layer on the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the rice, creating a pyramid shape away from the sides of the pot, and drizzle 2 tbsp of melted butter over it. Poke 5 holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon. This allows the steam to release.
- Cover the pot with the lid, wrapped tightly in a tea towel to catch the steam.
- Cook on medium for 15 minutes, then turn down to low for 40 minutes. Be extra careful removing the lid because there will be a lot of steam. You can serve the tahdig however you would like, but I generally scoop the rice off of the crispy layer and then flip the tahdig onto a plate.
There are many tahdig variations. Potato tahdig is another favourite of mine and you can even make spaghetti tahdig! If you’d like to try making potato tahdig, follow the above steps until you reach step 4. Before adding your rice, layer the bottom of the pan with potato slices that are cut evenly, but not too thin. Cover with salt and let them fry for a few minutes. Turn them over and add the rice. The recipe, from there on, stays the same.
Don’t be discouraged if your tahdig doesn’t work out the first time – it took me a few tries to get it right. I really hope you enjoy tahdig as much as I do!