Persian Saffron Rice (yoghurt and saffron TahDig)

Tah-dig refers to the crunchy and crispy bottom layer of rice cooked in a pot. “Tah” means bottom and “dig” means pot in Persian/Farsi language. It’s pronounced tadeeg. The formation of tah-dig is a perfect symphony between the right temperature, the amount of oil, aromatic rice, length of time, right kind of pan, some experience and a little patience. If you don’t achieve the best kind of tah-dig the first time, don’t worry. There’s always the next rice dish you can experiment with.

No matter what kind of rice is made, it usually has some type of Tah-dig, a delicious treat that is a layer of either thin flat bread (Lavash) or flour tortilla, or a mixture of rice, yogurt and saffron, or thin slices of peeled potatoes arranged in the bottom of the pot. Tah-dig turns a beautiful golden brown color and is crispy and delicious. Tah-dig is thought to be the best part of the rice among Persians and Persian food lovers everywhere.

Persian steamed rice is usually made using Basmati rice (although Jasmin rice give wonderful results). The grains hold their shape better during the steaming process and don’t stick together. This results in a fluffy steamed rice with long grains. The technique is the same if you want to make 390g (2 cups) of rice or 1.2kgs (6 cups) of rice.

Measure the dry rice into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and move the rice around with your fingertips in the water several times.

Drain the water and fill the bowl with fresh cold water again. Repeat this one more time until the water looks cleaner. It will never be completely clear, the cloudiness is due to the starch.

Fill a large casserole (5-6L capacity) with water up to 5cms from the top. You will need to allow room for the rice that you will be adding. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat. Once the water comes to a rolling boil add 68g salt and the rinsed rice. Bring it to another boil while stirring it couple of times very gently with a large slotted spoon or spatula to make sure the grains are not clumping together.

Continue to boil over medium high heat. Watch the rice carefully, it tends to foam up and overflow. You can reduce the heat a bit, but must maintain a continuous boil.

Check one of the grains after 7-10 minutes (the time depends on the particular brand of rice), it should be soft around the edges while still firm in the center.

Pour the rice into a fine mesh strainer, drain all the water and rinse the rice under cold water to stop the cooking process and to wash off the excess salt.

NOTE:  The different types of steamed Persian rice have the same steps up to this point, then different ingredients are added depending on the type of rice.

125g plain yogurt (I doubled this myself, and used Greek Yoghurt!)
½-1 tsp saffron threads
1 cup of the drained parboiled rice
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter

Mix together the yogurt and saffron threads. Stir in one cup of the cooked rice. Heat the oil/butter in the pan, layer with the yogurt mixture and top with the rest of the cooked rice.  Cover the lid with a damkesh or kitchen towel and steam over a low-medium heat for 45 minutes to one hour, or until steam rises, and the rice grains are tender.