Persian rice is really two things: the rice itself and the tahdig the intentionally crispy rice from the
bottom of the pan. To get the right results for this rice, make sure to follow the directions exactly and use a seasoned cast-iron (not enameled) pan. You’ll need cheesecloth to make this dish. Serve with kebabs, lamb stew, or a salad of salted tomatoes and raw onion.
- Yield: 5 ½ cups rice
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups white basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 strands saffron, ground, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pour the rice into a large bowl and add enough water to cover. Let soak for 1 hour, then drain and rinse several times to remove any additional starch.
- Boil the 8 cups water in a large cast-iron Dutch oven. Add the rice and salt and boil, cooking until the rice is slightly undercooked (6 to 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain, then rinse with cold water to remove excess starch.
- Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over low heat. Add the saffron and stir.
- Immediately add about 2 cups of the cooked rice in an even layer, pressing down with a spoon to compact it.
- Pile the remaining rice on top in a mound. Using a chopstick or spoon handle, make a hole in the center of the mound to allow the steam to escape. Top with cheesecloth, making sure the cheesecloth touches the rice.
- Cover the pan with foil, then a lid, and cook over low heat for 50 minutes, rotating the pot a few times to ensure even cooking. To serve, invert the entire pan onto a platter, or gently scoop out the cooked rice, then loosen the sides of the tahdig with an offset spatula. Serve whole or broken in pieces.