Persian-ish Rice From Samin Nosrat

June 25, 2021
41 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Samin Nosrat's Persian-ish Rice is the gateway to crispy, golden rice—beginners welcome. As Samin writes, "Every Persian has a special relationship with rice, and particularly with tahdig, the crispy crust by which every Iranian maman’s culinary prowess is measured. Judged on its even browning, perfect crispness, and whether it emerges from the pot in a beautiful cake, as well as it’s taste, a good tahdig is something to be proud of. Since traditional Persian rice can take years to perfect and hours to make, I’m including this Persian-ish variation, which I accidentally devised one night when I found myself with a few extra cups of just-boiled basmati rice on my hands."

Recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (Simon and Schuster, April 2017).

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Five Two Essential Stock Pot
- Mason Cash Cane Mixing Bowls
- Smithey Traditional Cast Iron Skillet

Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Persian-ish Rice From Samin Nosrat
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
  1. Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. In the meantime, place rice in a bowl and rinse with cold water, swirling vigorously with your fingers and changing the water at least five times, until the start has run off and the water runs much clearer. Drain the rice.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, salt it heavily. The precise amount will vary depending on what kind of salt you’re using, but it’s about 6 tablespoons fine sea salt or a generous 1⁄2 cup kosher salt. The water should taste saltier than the saltiest seawater you’ve ever tasted. This is your big chance to get the rice seasoned from within, and it’s only going to spend a few minutes in the salted water, so don’t panic about oversalting your food. Add the rice, and stir.
  4. Set a fine-mesh sieve or colander in the sink. Cook rice, stirring from time to time, until it’s al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain into the sieve and immediately begin rinshing with cold water to stop the rice from cooking further. Drain.
  5. Remove 1 cup of the rice and combine it with the yogurt.
  6. Set a large, very well seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium heat, then add the oil and butter. When butter melts, add the yogurt-rice mixture into the pan and level it out. Pile the remaining rice into the pan, mounding it gently toward the center. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gently dig five or six holes into the rice down to the bottom of the pot, which will be gently sizzling. The holes will allow steam to escape from the bottommost layer of rice so that a crisp crust can form.) There should be enough oil in the pan so that you can see it bubbling up the sides. Add a little more oil if needed to see these bubbles.
  7. Continue cooking rice over medium heat, turning the pan a quarter turn every 3 or 4 minutes to ensure even browning, until you start to see a golden crust begin to form at the sides of the pan, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once you see the crust turn from pale amber to gold, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes. The edges of the crust should be golden, and the rice should be cooked completely through. There isn’t a way to tell what tahdig will look like until you flip it, so I prefer to err on the side of overbrowning, but if that makes you uncomfortable, pull the rice after about 35 total minutes in the pan.
  8. To unmold the rice, carefully run a spatula along the edges of the pan to ensure that no part of the crust is sticking. Tip out any excess fat at the bottom of the pan into a bowl, gather your courage, and then carefully flip it onto a platter or cutting board. It should look like a beautiful cake of fluffy rice with a golden crust.
  9. And if for any reason your rice doesn’t slip out in one piece, do what every Persian grandmother since the beginning of time has done: scoop out the rice, chip out the tahdig in pieces with a spoon or metal spatula, and pretend you meant to do it this way. No one will be the wiser. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nan Beth Campbell
    Nan Beth Campbell
  • whym
  • Lavonda Shipley
    Lavonda Shipley
  • Alessandra S.
    Alessandra S.
  • Cindy Young
    Cindy Young
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

73 Reviews

Adriana December 25, 2022
Do you cover the pan at any point in the process?
Elizabeth W. December 26, 2022
Others can chime in, but in my understanding, no. I am just going by the video instructions (I was not taught to make this by a native) but I think you want steam to escape the little steam holes to get the crisp achieved. If you are getting grease splatter, you might be able to use a splatter guard and not end up soggy, but may take experimentation...
daddio August 29, 2022
You can do much better by mixing in 2 egg yolks and half a stick of butter into the rice that will form the tah-dig. Use a non-stick small medium size stock pot . Press the tah-dig mixture evenly into the bottom. Form the remaining rice into a pyramid and put a stick of butter in the center , Cover with an absorbent dish cloth (damkoni) and the pot lid. I use 2 cups of basmati rice to start with. I use aboit one fourth or less of the cooked rice to make the Tah-dig. You can avoid the rinsing of the rice and cook it for 10-11 minutes at a rolling boil. Steam for 2 to 3 hours at low setting on a smaller burner after an initial 10 minutes on medium. can't miss--turn it upside down. I have a ceramic deep dish pot that never sticks. It says palms restaurant on the bottom and the lid has a small hole in it.
Bill M. August 29, 2022
2-3 hours? Ridiculous!
daddio August 29, 2022
I spent a year in Iran and had instruction and demonstrations of how to prepare their chelo (Rice). The Persians make the best tasting rice in the world. It is not unreasonable to steam for this amount of time if you want perfection, light, fluffy rice and a perfectly cooked Tah-dig. Try it--youll like it !
Bill M. August 29, 2022
Thanks but I'll pass
bellahello123 June 16, 2022
Tasted fantastic - sadly got stuck to my non stick!! Broke it up and pretended that was how it was supposed to be, but wondering what I did wrong. Nonetheless was delicious and although it didn't LOOK like my best tahdig, it certainly tasted the best. Used 5 tbsp rather than the 6.
bellahello123 June 16, 2022
5 tbsp of the salt!
harsanjay March 31, 2022
Thanks ! it's very helpful for me....!! Is this content helpful for you too ???
Nan B. March 18, 2022
I love tadhig, but haven't made it in so long, I've forgotten all the tricks I learned from a non-English speaking Persian grandmother of a friend. She never used yogurt and I'm vegan, so I'm wondering if I can make this successfully without yogurt? Any tips if I do it this way?
Tamara March 20, 2022
I make mine with Forager’s plain unsweetened cashewmilk yogurt. Turns out perfect every time!
Nan B. March 20, 2022
thx...if only I could find vegan yogurt where I live - rural part of Texas.
Tamara March 20, 2022
Ahhh, I completely understand that struggle. I’m from a small town in north Texas and they never have anything I can eat when I visit. I think you can omit the yogurt all together, or maybe try blending some soft tofu with a little lemon juice to use as a yogurt-ish substitute?
Nan B. March 31, 2022
Small state (never thought I'd say that about Texas). I live near Whitesboro...where are you?
Tamara March 31, 2022
Haha, right?! I’m in Austin now, but the hometown is Wichita Falls.
page1107 May 2, 2022
I usually do make it by the recipe, but I was out of yogurt the other night and braved it without...turned out just fine! You could always try a little vegan sour cream if you can get your hands on that. But trust me when I say that I didn't miss it at all.
Mary M. February 21, 2023
You can make it with or without Yogurt. You could use sour cream, add a little water to thin it out. For many years I made it without yogurt but yogurt makes the tadig tender. I now prefer to make it with yogurt.
valentina February 18, 2022
This recipe is amazing. SO delicious!
Denise H. February 17, 2022
This is a fantastic crispy rice! I added well drained sour cherries to the rice dotted all around into the soft white rice to get heated through and some of the remaining juice just before flipping it out onto the serving bowl. The addition of a few soaked saffron threads and soaking liquid quickly absorbed into the rice makes this rice even lovelier.
whym October 23, 2021
There's nothing quite as exciting as flipping over the pan and seeing that golden, gloriously crispy rice layer. I've made this recipe 3 or 4 times before, and I fall in love with it all over again each time. So delicious.
Albina June 25, 2021
A long time neighbor and family friend taught me to make this decades ago. She used a layer of potatoes, sliced very thin, as the first item in the pan. She would then layer the yogurt and rice so that it almost looked like a cake when we flipped it. It gets puffy and light. It was made in a regular, large sauce pan. We would cut slices, like a cake. It was a meal and the golden crispy potatoes at the top were perfect!
Carol S. June 21, 2021
This recipe is perfection!!! Adding to my favorites as I am certain this will be made on a regular basis. Like Joanna H., I also purchased a lovely serving piece proper for the big flip!
cpc May 27, 2021
This was really good and fairly easy. If you follow the instructions exactly, it should come right out of the pan. I will definitely make this again.
Joanna H. March 14, 2021
This Tahdig recipe is perfection. I've made it countless times and it comes out perfectly every time. It needs a little babysitting throughout, but it's well worth it. Just bought a special plate that fits perfectly in my pan for the flip--can't wait to see how it works out tonight.
Lavonda S. February 28, 2021
I've wanted to make tahdig for some time and when I ran across this recipe, I started with it as I figured I'd have more success. I followed the instructions in the video and rinsed and drained the rice several times and soaked it for 30 minutes before cooking. I used 3 T peanut oil and 3 T unsalted Irish butter and browned the rice in a 10 inch Lodge cast iron pan. It was perfection. My husband and I ate the entire brown crispy top in one sitting with Persian chicken kabobs and garlicky cucumber yogurt dip. This Southern lady is excited to have found another use for her "cornbread" skillet!
Alessandra S. January 29, 2021
As every traditional recipe rice with tadigh has a million recipe and after calling a couple of Persian friends, I decided to add saffron water to it (as they do in other versions). I had it already before, cooked by my friend’s mum and I must say it was very very close! Definitely doing it again and again
Cindy Y. January 2, 2021
Amazing recipe and so easy! I agree with some reviewers that the rice, alone, would need more flavor, but I served it with Yotam Ottolenghi's Miso Butter Onions and it was a true gastronomic experience! Thanks, Kristen for your easy to follow instructions!
Charles January 2, 2021
I've wanted to make tahdig but found the concept daunting - the deep cooking vessel and flipping it out - but this is the perfect dish to jump in. May not be authentic tahdig and I may never progress beyond this dish but what I made was a total success. Halved the recipe (we're two), used a an 8-in nonstick heavy skillet, cook time was about the same though I did follow Kristen's advice to err on the side of over-browning. Toasty, crunchy top and moist, tender rice beneath - it's a very nice dish I will make often.
Pam P. November 27, 2020
I made this with basmati rice exactly as written in the recipe and it was one of my proud kitchen moments. Many thanks!
Pam P. November 27, 2020
Love this recipe, I made it with basmati rice and followed the steps exactly as in the recipe. One of my proud kitchen moments.
Pam P. November 27, 2020
Love this recipe, I made it with basmati rice and followed the steps exactly as in the recipe. One of my proud kitchen moments.
Panda November 4, 2020
I made this with leftover rice. It was amazing. Greatly reduced the cooking time, and I made in a cast iron skillet.