Persian-ish Rice From Samin Nosrat

June 25, 2021
25 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
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). —Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
Persian-ish Rice From Samin Nosrat
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
In This Recipe
  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.

  • Lavonda Shipley
    Lavonda Shipley
  • Alessandra S.
    Alessandra S.
  • Cindy Young
    Cindy Young
  • Panda
  • Elizabeth Walters
    Elizabeth Walters
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

53 Reviews

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.
Shona October 16, 2020
Absolutely loved it.. everything worked out perfectly as per instructions:)
Loved the crunch, seasoning and buttery flavour.
Bill M. September 27, 2020
Made this last night. Reduced the recipe by one half. I did not soak the rice. After boiling the rice for six minutes, the rice was still a bit hard in the middle, so I covered the skillet for the first 15 minutes of the final cook. It turned out perfect!!
Elizabeth W. September 26, 2020
In the video she says to soak the rice for 1/2 an hour but this is not in the recipe. Is this step necessary?
Beth B. September 26, 2020
I’ve done it both ways. It came out basically the same. If you have the time, do it.
Elizabeth W. September 27, 2020
Thank you!
lisa G. September 16, 2020
This is rice nirvana! Crispy on the bottom and soft, buttery and fluffy on top. I confess that I broke the bottom when I tried to remove it from the pan but embraced the imperfection and focused on the deliciousness :)
tracy R. September 7, 2020
Made as written, watched the video and had a perfect outcome! I loved it; my family were less entranced. Will make again in a smaller pan jut for me😉
Beth B. June 14, 2020
WOW! This was amazing. I've been wanting to make crispy rice for a while, but was nervous. This recipe took the fear out. Came out perfect on my first try. Watch the video! It's very helpful. I will make this again and again.
Laura G. June 11, 2020
Does the recipe using 2 cups of rice mean 2 cups of uncooked? That makes a lot of rice and in the video after it cooks, it doesn’t look like there is that large a quantity.
V June 11, 2020
yes, uncooked rice.
MLHE June 4, 2020
Finally...I made this recipe tonight and oh...thank you, Persians. Thank you, Kristen! For dessert, I'm going to read some poetry written by Persian people. MMmmmm...good!