There is an old Afghan saying that if a girl likes Tahdigi then it will rain on her wedding day…and this is a folktale I have actually witnessed come true repeatedly. Tahdigi is the bottom crunchy oily crust of rice. Afghans eat Tahdigi from the rice pot and may put it into a small bowl on the side for those whom like it, but it is never served as a dish and is seen as more of a silly guilty pleasure. My mom and grandma would always scrape out some Tahdigi for me into a small bowl after serving the rice, which I would be hesitant to share.
However our neighbors in Iran (who have a very similar style of rice) eat Tahdigi as a main dish and treat it as a special delicacy. In Iran a woman is considered a very accomplished cook if she can make a delicious rice crust that comes out perfectly from the pot. Iranian Tahdigi usually has fried potatoes or pita as a base for the rice crust that is formed at the bottom. Since I love Tahdigi I have adapted the Iranian outlook on Tahdigi and like to make a fuss out of it and serve it for parties. I found it easier and a nicer presentation when I cook a deep Tahdigi in a separate skillet and can flip it on a platter to serve.
-3 cups of basmati rice washed and soaked for 1 hour
-5 strands of Saffron in half cup of warm water
– ½ cup Yogurt/Chakkah/Greek Yogurt
-1 tablespoon turmeric
– 5 large Potatoes sliced (enough to cover the base of the skillet)
-1 cup of Zereshk
1) Soak the Zereshk in warm water for about 10 minutes, and drain. Then fry the Zereshk in oil for about 5 minutes, sprinkle sugar and a few tablespoons of water on top. Let this fry for about five minutes.
2) Boil rice in salted boiling water until al dente. To check the rice, squeeze a grain of rice between your thumb and index finger and it should break but the rice should not be cooked all the way. Pour the rice in a drainer.
3) Carefully mix saffron water and half cup of yogurt with rice.
4) Heat up oil in a deep skillet, and stir 1 tablespoon of turmeric in the oil. Fry potatoes on both sides, until cooked.
5) Place rice on top of cooked potatoes carefully.
6) Cook uncovered on medium for about 10 minutes, you may hear the crust forming with some cackling noise at this time.
7) Cover skillet with 2 paper towel and place sauce lid on top. Turn temperature to medium-low and cook for another 20 minutes.
8) Once rice has finished cooking, let it cool for about 5 minutes. Take a platter, place face down on the skillet, and flip the Tahdigi out onto the platter.
9) Garnish with the Zereshk.