- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
The first part of this recipe is for a rice cooker with a removable insert. To make this recipe without a rice cooker, skip to step 8.
The beautifully fragrant and earthy aroma of this dish is universally enjoyable. It reminds me of home, my mother’s cooking, and my grandmother's humble kitchen where we made this together once upon a time to celebrate the Persian New Year. It's a wonderful way to use fresh herbs from the garden in the spring/summer months, but also a hearty and comforting dish to serve with meats and fish—or on its own in the colder months. A feel-good, vegetarian dish which is quite satisfying. In the Hindi language, “bas” means “aroma” and “mati” means “full of.” If the starting point is “full of aroma” with just the rice, imagine what happens once you add the medley of gorgeous herbs and greens. You end up with heaven in a bite!
—Basil and Roses
uncooked basmati rice
fresh dill, roughly chopped
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
fresh chives, chopped
fresh mint, chopped
fresh basil, chopped
ground saffron dissolved in 4 tablespoons hot water
coriander seeds (optional)
- Soak rice in cold water for approximately 30 minutes before cooking.
- Rinse rice with water, gently agitating with fingertips. Do this multiple times (3-4) until water runs clear.
- Fill a large nonstick pot with approximately 10 cups of water and bring to boil over high heat. Add half of the turmeric and salt to boiling water. (Don’t worry about adding too much salt, it will be drained later).
- Boil gently on high heat for for approximately 6-10 minutes until aldente (not fully cooked), gently stirring a couple of times to loosen any rice stuck together or stuck to the pot.
- While rice boils, combine all the chopped herbs you're using in a bowel in preparation to add to the rice. Note, this recipe works well with just dill, but you can get creative with your favorite herb combinations.
- Drain rice in a large fine mesh colander removing all liquid from pot and rinse the rice with cold water as it drains.
- Place the same pot back on the stove and add oil and 1/2 cup water into the pan. Add the rest of the turmeric, dissolved saffron and coriander seeds, if using, to the oil-water mixture. Temporarily increase the temperature to medium-high to get a gentle boil going for the oil while you add the other ingredients.
- Carefully pour half of the oil-water mixture into a bowel and reserve for later.
- Spread a few spatulas of plain partially cooked rice to the bottom of the pot on top of the oil-water mixture- making sure to cover the entire bottom of the pot with a packed layer of rice.
- Add and layer herbs followed by a layer of rice, one spatula at a time, repeatedly, creating several layers of rice and herbs, gradually forming rice into a pyramid shaped heap.
- Using the back of a wooden spoon, create 3 holes in the rice. This allows the steam to escape and rice to fry on the bottom creating the crunchy tahdig, while steaming the rest of the pot for light and fluffy results.
- Cook for 10 minutes more on medium heat to begin forming the golden crust. Cover the lid with a layer of paper towels or clean dishcloth to capture condensation
- Reduce heat to low and cook for another 30 minutes, then pour the set aside oil-water mixture all over the pyramid in a circular motion.
- Cover the pot again and cook on low heat for another 1 hour until the steam rises and the tahdig is golden.
- You can serve the rice two ways, with a dramatic flip that always leads to an exciting reveal (this never gets tired!), or by gently removing the rice one spatula at a time and placing it on a serving platter, then detaching the crispy crust from the bottom of the pot by using a wooden spatula.
- For the more dramatic flip (recommended), place a round serving platter slightly larger than the diameter of the pot. Using two oven mitts and holding the platter tightly over the uncovered pot, carefully raise and invert both platter and pot simultaneously and place on a flat surface. Remove the pot, revealing a golden cake-shaped beauty. Serve immediately and enjoy!