Tah-Chin - Layered Saffron Yoghurt Rice And Chicken
This is a divine Persian dish of layered rice and cooked chicken breasts bound together by seasoned saffron yogurt and egg yolk mixture. We Iranians love our rice and love to layer it with different types of vegetables, herbs and meat. However, the most tasty and desired part of this dish is the crunchy golden bottom layer of the rice called “tah-dig”. Since the rice is served upside down and cooks like a cake, it has a thick “tah-dig” which can be cut into many pieces making it also ideal for serving at dinner parties.
"Tah" is a Persian/Farsi word for "bottom" and "chin" is the root word for "chidan", which means putting things in order, arranging and in this case, layering.
The following is a recipe for a complete version of “tah-chin” thus includes marinated cooked chicken but if you are only interested in the crusty rice part (tah-dig) as tasted by Simon skip steps 3 and 5, and part of step 11 which refers to layering of chicken
- 4 cups long grain basmati rice
- 3 cups Greek style unsweetened plain yogurt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon ground saffron
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 600g boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large onion, peeled, and thinly sliced
- a pinch turmeric
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or rice bran oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Rinse and soak rice in lukewarm water with 3 tablespoons of salt for 2 hours. Drain before cooking.
Dissolve saffron in ¼ cup of hot water. Cover and set aside.
Place the raw chicken breasts in a pot along with onion. Add turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. Add a cup of water, bring to boil on medium-high heat, lower the heat, cover and cook for an hour on medium-low heat. Set aside to cool. Cut the chicken into small pieces.
In a medium size mixing bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, egg yolks, ¾ of liquid saffron, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Marinate chicken pieces in a cup of the yogurt mixture.
Bring 9 cups of water to the boil in a large pot on medium-high heat, add the rice and boil for about 10 minutes or until rice grains are soft on the ends and firm in the centre (aldante). Drain and pour some cool water over it to wash away the starch and to separate the rice grains.
Add cooked rice gently to the yogurt mixture, blend well. It will have a yellow colour.
Pre heat oven to 200c (without fan).
Grease the sides of a wide bottom non-stick oven proof pan that's not too deep.
Place oil in the pan to cover the bottom uniformly up to a depth of ½ mm. Dot the oil with ½ teaspoon of liquid saffron.
Ladle 2/3 of the rice and yogurt mix into the pan, flatten with a wooden spoon, and layer chicken pieces evenly on top so it covers the entire surface. Add the rest of the rice yogurt mix over the chicken pieces. Flatten the top with the back of a large spoon while pressing down. Make a few holes in the rice. Using a teaspoon pour the remaining liquid saffron over the rice and around the edges.
Cover the pan with foil. Make 2 tiny slits in the cover with the tip of a knife so steam could escape.
Place the pan in the middle of oven and cook for 2 ½ hours.
Serve “tah-chin” upside down to show the crust (“tah-dig”) by placing a suitable size serving dish on the pan and inverting the rice carefully into it.
“Noosh-e jaan!” (Enjoy!)