Middle Eastern

Crispy-All-Over Persian Baked Rice Is a Hop, Skip & Muffin Tin Away

March 13, 2018

I can’t tell you the last time I made muffins. I guess I’m just more of a toast or eggs kind of guy, but rich pastries just aren’t in my morning repertoire. However, my muffin tin still sits in my cupboard, taking up prime NYC tiny kitchen real estate. I was contemplating parting ways with my tin, dreaming of the half sheet pans I could fit in its place, when my fiance’s aunt introduced me to the world of muffin tin Persian rice.

Let’s start with a little background on the dish we’re making. We’re tackling tachin, a traditional Persian rice cake perfumed with saffron and stuffed with chicken and sour dried barberries. It’s pretty much the OG casserole that puts all others to shame. After inverting the pot or casserole dish onto a platter, a golden and crispy outer shell is revealed, begging to be picked at. Think of those crispy rice rolls you always end up ordering a second order from at your favorite sushi spot. Now, super-size it and you’ll get something in the ballpark of this dish.

Instead of its classic large-scale format, Auntie Diana taught me the beauty of making miniature versions in a muffin tin for a festive Persian dish, perfect for entertaining. Years ago, she hosted a small-plates party that became her hosting claim-to-fame (people still talk about this party, which I can vouch for). As a result, these individual tahhin were born and my life will never be the same.

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Now for those of you making Persian rice for the first time, there are some key tips I’ve been passed along to ensure you find success on this new culinary frontier. First off, not all basmati rice is made equal. Making sure you have high quality, long grain basmati will help take you to the next level. I love going to specialty spice markets to get my rice, since they often have imports from India that work great. (Unfortunately, it's not likely you'll be able to get your hands on Iranian rice.) Good basmati is fragrant and super fluffy when cooked, which will come in handy when you’re making this dish.

More crisp for you. Photo by Jenny Huang

Once you have your rice, you have to soak it in water with salt. This helps season the rice, as well as absorb some water, which will help the tachin cook evenly. After par-cooking the rice in boiling water, you’re ready to get the party started with assembling your rice cakes. By splitting the rice and chicken mixtures between each well, you get more surface area for contact between the rice and the pan. This means more crispy rice for you and all your guests (blessed be).

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Top Comment:
“What if you left out the chicken to make this vegetarian? Maybe replace with some vegetables or just up the rice amount? Thoughts?”
— daryn E.

I promise you this dish will give new life to your muffin tin. They’re perfect for everything from entertaining for a crowd, to a meal prep-friendly dish to help prevent you from having another #saddesklunch. Any way you attack it, this recipe is going to be something you and your friends will be talking about for a long time.

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daryn E. March 20, 2018
What if you left out the chicken to make this vegetarian? Maybe replace with some vegetables or just up the rice amount? Thoughts?
Jake C. March 21, 2018
I do it all the time with toasted mushrooms or any leftover ve I have in the fridge! They just need to withstand the long baking :)
daryn E. March 21, 2018
Thanks. I’m going to try it.
Vicki M. March 19, 2018
What would you serve with this -- I am thinking about a menu....?
Marlene B. March 18, 2018
Dried currents might be better than cranberries, smaller and perhaps n=not as sweet?
Jake C. March 18, 2018
For sure! It’s just common for the Persians in my family to sub in dried cranberries :)
Barb March 18, 2018
Glad you asked and were answered, I had the same question Daniel.
Daniel March 18, 2018
Never heard of barberries nor seen them in any store, what would be an acceptable substitute? Dried cranberries? DF
Jake C. March 18, 2018
You get them on Amazon or in any Middle Eastern spice shop! If not, dried cranberries work great!
Daniel March 18, 2018
Thanks Jake!
Daniel March 18, 2018
I should mention that I occasionally make a Lamb Chelo which is basically a thick ground lamb stew with spinach that is served with a crust of basmati rice. If I remember correctly it's an Iranian (Persian) dish too. We love it.
Kevin K. March 18, 2018
If you've a Middle East market available, barberries are also called zereshk, which you might see on the package.