Tahdig – Persian crispy rice – ته دیگ

Yields: 4 Servings Difficulty: Difficult Prep Time: 5 Mins Cook Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 35 Mins

Getting tahdig from kitchen to dining table is difficult with the sudden appearance of eager helpers who want a taste. In this article, find out what tahdig (ته دیگ) is and how to cook it with potatoes or bread.

What is tahdig?

Tahdig is the crispy layer of fried food at the base of the pan, usually comprising of potatoes, rice or bread. In Farsi, ‘tah’ means bottom and ‘dig’ means pan. Golden tahdig served intact is a traditional mark of a skilled cook in Iran. Try my cooking tips below to get it right the first time.

How to cook

When cooked perfectly, it is golden and crispy, but don’t worry if yours is slightly burnt or undercooked the first time. It takes practice because it cooks at the bottom of the pan so you can’t check when it is ready – even experienced cooks sometimes burn their tahdig!

My cooking tips are:

  • soak the rice for a few hours before cooking to make the rice extra fluffy
  • start with very hot oil before cooking on low heat to prevent sticking
  • if using potatoes, slice them evenly so they cook at the same speed
  • use a wooden spoon handle to put a hole in the centre of the rice for steam
  • wrap your lid in a tea towel to allow the rice to steam
  • health aside – the more oil, the less likely it is to burn

Ingredients swaps

The recipe below shows the three ways to make rice tahdig:

  • plain rice
  • potato
  • flatbread

Please note, the rice option is very crispy, which some people love but some hate. Therefore, I recommend potato or flatbread.

Once you are able to cook tahdig, try adding a little turmeric into the oil. You can also add flavour to the rice with barberries, almonds, raisins or walnuts.

How to serve

Finally, let’s explore how to serve and eat rice and tahdig. Although it can be cooked alone, it is a side dish that can accompany many main dishes. Here are some dishes you can pair it with:


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  • Parboil the rice (boil for less time than described in the packet instructions). Meanwhile, If using a potato, peel and slice about 7mm thick. Optional: prepare the liquid saffron by grinding the saffron into a powder (you can add a little sugar to help) and mix with 3 tbsp hot water. Leave to use later. Once the rice is cooked until edible but not too soft, drain and quickly rinse with cold water. You are going to cook to steam the rice next...
  • On medium heat, cover the base of a deep pan with oil and sprinkle in the salt. Once sizzling hot, you can momentarily take away from the heat for safety, place the potatoes or flat bread on the base of the pan: Either - If the tortilla is larger than the pan base, trim it to fit. Or - Lie the potato slices so that as much of the base is covered as possible. Chop up the remaining pieces to fit into gaps. You can place small extra pieces of potato on top but should generally stick to a single layer.
  • If you took the pan off the heat, put it back on to keep the oil hot. With a serving spoon, sprinkle the rice on top and build into a dome shape, pulling away from the sides to avoid burning. Cover with a lid wrapped in a table cloth to allow the rice to steam.
  • If you are using potatoes, cook on high heat for 2-3 mins then turn to low heat. If you are using bread, turn immediately to low heat. Cook for around 25 minutes. Of course, if you smell burning remove from the heat - the time can depend on how thick the base of your pan is.
  • Once cooked, if you have saffron water put some rice into the saffron water and leave for 2 mins to soak up the colour and flavour of the saffron. To serve, upturn the pot onto a large plate, with the tahdig ontop. If yours didn't come out in one piece, that is okay - just take out pieces of tahdig and lie them across the rice. Finally, decorate using the coloured saffron rice. For example, you can cut your flat bread into four pieces and sprinkle saffron rice into a cross shape in between. Best enjoyed with vegan yoghurt and salad. Remember, the best bit of tahdig is always offered to guests!


Did you make this recipe? Tag @vegan_middle_east on Instagram or comment below.

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