If Oakland’s Helia Sadeghi had to eat one dish for the rest of her life, it would be crispy, buttery, comforting tahchin. In Sadeghi’s childhood home in Iran, the golden domed rice “cake” layered with saffron-tinged yogurt and chicken made an appearance for special occasions. Birthdays. Getting good grades. Sometimes, tahchin was the occasion.
“My mom worked two jobs, so if she had a day off, she would ask me what I wanted her to make, and I always asked for tahchin,” she says. “Hers was the best.”
This recipe, which is featured on Sadeghi’s Big Dill Kitchen website and requires a large nonstick pot with a lid — would be the perfect centerpiece for a Nowruz meal, she says. While the traditional Persian New Year meal is herbed rice with fish to represent rebirth and fertility, Sadeghi says you should make what feels special to you. For her, that’s tahchin.
“It is a celebration food, a showstopper,” she says. “And Nowruz is definitely a special occasion.”
Tahchin (Iranian Savory Crispy Saffron Rice “Cake”)
Serves 4 to 6
1½ cups basmati rice
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt, strained
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 teaspoons sea salt or more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup strongly brewed saffron, divided use (see note below)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 stick butter, softened, divided use
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup barberries, rinsed
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup pistachio kernels or 2 tablespoons slivered pistachios
Fill a large pot half to two-thirds full of salted water and bring to a boil.
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then add it to the pot of boiling water. Boil until tender but not thoroughly cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. A good rule is that when you squish a grain of rice between your fingers, it is soft but still feels grainy. Use a strainer to drain the rice and thoroughly rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, turmeric, salt, black pepper and all but 2 tablespoons of the saffron water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, add the shredded chicken. Pour the 2 tablespoons of reserved brewed saffron over it, then mix. Add 1/4 cup of the yogurt mixture over the chicken and saffron and mix. (To make vegetarian tahchin, simply omit the chicken.)
Place a large nonstick pot over medium heat. Cut the stick of butter into three equal pieces. Add …read more
Source:: The Mercury News