Tahchin, which is usually served as a main dish, can be cooked with different fillings.
Iranian dishes excel at making people who have never tried them fall in love at the first bite. The unique combination of spices and flavorings with a wide range of vegetables, herbs, fruit, grains, nuts, meat and most importantly rice only needs the wand of Iranian cuisine to perform magic and leave an explosion of unforgettable tastes in the mouth. The delectable smell, delicious look and perfectly pleasant taste make it almost impossible to resist them. To share the gastronomic delights of Iran, IFP has decided to file a series of mouth-watering recipes for Iranian dishes.
Tachin is a rice dish flavored with saffron which can appear in one or a few layers with different fillings including chicken, barberries, fried spinach and onions, lamb, or an optional mixture of them. It can also be cooked in one layer with no filling. The following are instructions for cooking the dish with a filling of chicken pieces and barberries.
1. Four cups rice (400 grams)
2. Four to five egg yolks
3. 300 grams strained plain yoghurt
4. 300 grams chicken breast – To give it a pleasant taste, you can cook it with some sticks of celery, one carrot, one onion, some cloves of garlic and salt to taste. Cut the cooked chicken into pieces. You can marinate the pieces in yoghurt flavored with saffron a night before, if you like.
5. One heaped teaspoon saffron – You will need a pestle and mortar to grind it into powder; the powder should not be prepared much in advance, because it will lose part of its aromatic smell. You had better brew it with a little hot water to have better color and aroma. The more saffron is used in the dish, the darker yellow the final meal will be.
6. ½ cup oil/ melted butter
7. 50 grams barberries – Soak the barberries for about 10 minutes, then rinse and drain them. Add one tablespoon of sugar, one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of brewed saffron to them and leave the mix for half an hour. After that in a frying pan over a low heat, fry them for about two minutes just to let them get warm.
8. Slivered pistachios to taste as a garnish
9. Salt to taste
How to cook Tahchin
1. Rinse the rice with lukewarm water a few times, then soak it for a few hours in water to which four tablespoons of salt has been added. Bring some water to a boil in a pot. Drain the salt water from the rice and then add the rice to the boiling water. Leave the rice in the boiling water until it is al dente. The rice should be neither too hard nor too soft; it should be firm and slightly chewy. Avoid overcooking the rice.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, brewed saffron, strained plain yoghurt and oil. Add salt to the mix to taste. Then add in the rice and mix them altogether.
3. Take an oven-safe glass dish [because it’s easier to check on Tahchin and find out when the bottom and side of the dish have turned golden and crispy] and grease it well. With a spatula, spread a layer of the mix evenly at the bottom of the dish. Press the first layer down with the back of the spatula, and then cover it with chicken pieces and fried barberries.
Place the barberries toward the center, because they tend to burn if they are close to the sides of the dish. Put another layer of the mix on top. The number of layers depends on the depth of your dish. What is important is that each layer should be spread evenly and pressed firmly down, so that your Tahchin won’t finally fall apart. Pour a few spoons of melted butter over the last layer if you like. Cover the dish with silver foil. You can make a few small holes in the foil to let steam go away while it is being prepared in the oven.
4. Preheat the oven to 180˚ C for a quarter. Place the dish in the oven. It usually takes between one to two hours to be ready. You need to check on the dish after one hour and take it out when a golden, crispy crust is formed at the bottom and the sides.
5. Remove the dish from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Put the serving platter upside down on the dish and then flip it over so that the crispy golden crust will be on top. If you fail to grease the dish, Tahchin won’t come off easily.
6. You can garnish the dish with fried barberries and slivered pistachios.