Tahdig - Persian Rice

4-6 serves
The aim of this rice is to have the grains as separate as possible. This looks complicated, but all the steps are easy, and once you’ve done them the first time, it’s easy to repeat it. It can be used for a crowd, using 1/3 cup uncooked rice per person. Instead of cooking it in a pot with the crust you could put it in a baking dish, cover with aluminium foil, and cook in the oven at 150 celcius for an hour.

1½ cups rice
Pinch Saffron
2 tablespoons butter
Optional – onions, dried fruit, nuts

Prepare the Rice

Rinse your required quantity of rice in a few changes of water, until the water runs clear.
Soak the rice in wait to cover for at least 1 hour.
At this point take a small pinch of very expensive saffron and soak in 3 tablespoons of rose water. The longer it soaks, the better the colour.
Par boil the rice in salted water for around 5 minutes. You know when it is ready because the grains of rice will rise to the top.
Drain the rice. You can do all this ahead of time.

Cook the Rice

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the bottom of a non stick saucepan or frypan.
Add half a cup of rice and spread it evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Pile the rest of the rice up loosely into a dome shape. Using the back of a wooden spoon, make a few hole in the dome. All this is done so the steam can escape.
To stop the steam dripping back onto the rice, cover the top of the pan with a tea towel and then the lid.
Cook over medium high heat for 20 mins. The idea is that the rice on the bottom fries and gets crispy brown, but this takes practice.
Reduce heat to low and cook a further 30 mins. or you can leave it this way for a long time.

Finish it off

(Optional) In a separate pan fry onion, green onions, dried fruit etc in a little butter. Add a little boiling water to reconstitute the dried fruit.
Take the lid off the rice and stir through the onions, dried fruit and any nuts you may want to add, being careful not to disturb the crusty bottom.
Swirl the saffron liquid over the top.
Scoop the rice onto a serving platter. Carefully remove the crust and scatter it over the rice.