As with most Iranian recipes, there are as many ways to make tachin as there are people who eat it, each insisting their method (or their mother’s) is superior. Tachin is my favorite dish, and one I’ve been attempting to make on my own since I was 15. The first five years were entirely trial and error, until one summer several years ago, when my aunt invited me to spend the night at her apartment in the Mirdamad neighborhood of Tehran. We practiced until I got it right, my fumbling Farsi barely bridging the gap.
The next day we served the recipe to fifteen or twenty family members, all gathered around the dining table, sharing slices of tachin nestled between handfuls of fresh herbs and heaping spoonfuls of maast o moosir, a shallot-y, garlicky yogurt. There was of course, the requisite meter-long sangak bread, fresh from the noonvayee, or local baker, and plentiful bottles of yogurt soda, or doogh, to wash it all down. It was a light lunch in Iran and an absolute feast in my eyes.
I prepare this often for a table of one (just me!) in America. It yields far too much for one person and I pack it for lunch every day for a week afterwards, a routine most solo eaters are familiar with, but one that feels like a luxury when the meal is a childhood favorite.
My variation includes my favorite Iranian staple, barberries, which you can likely find at your local Middle Eastern market or on Amazon. The chicken can be swapped for eggplant, which I have done during many a vegetarian stint. If you opt for the latter, there is no need to marinate the eggplant. Instead, I recommend cutting the eggplant into slices, lengthwise, and fry the slices in a pan with a splash of liquid saffron and then patting the cooked eggplant dry with paper towels before layering it between the rice.
This recipe, while complete with a few personalized touches from my family recipe, is far from fusion. Instead, it's a tried-and-true Iranian classic, you can find it at potlucks and on kitchen tables from the Californian diaspora to mid-Tehran. Share it with a friend, or fifteen, or twenty.
—Azora Zoe Paknad