Tahchin Morgh, often referred to as “Persian Rice Cake with Chicken”, is a delicious dish that beautifully marries fragrant saffron rice with succulent pieces of chicken. With its golden crust, aromatic spices, and tender interior, this dish is a staple in many Persian households and is perfect for special occasions.
- For the Chicken:
- 500g chicken pieces (breasts or thighs work best)
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 3 cups water
- For the Rice:
- 2 cups long grain or Basmati rice
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/2 cup yogurt (preferably thick, like Greek yogurt)
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons oil or melted butter
- Barberries (zereshk), soaked in water for garnish
- Sliced almonds or pistachios for garnish
- Chicken Preparation:
- In a pot, sauté onions until translucent.
- Add chicken pieces to the pot. Season with turmeric, salt, and pepper.
- Pour in the water and let it simmer on low-medium heat until the chicken is cooked through (about 30 minutes).
- Once cooked, remove chicken pieces and shred or cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set the broth aside.
- Rice Preparation:
- Wash the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps in removing excess starch and results in fluffier rice.
- In a large pot, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Add salt.
- Add the washed rice to the boiling water. Boil for 6-7 minutes or until the rice is parboiled (it should still have a bite to it).
- Drain the rice in a colander.
- Tahchin Mixture:
- In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, dissolved saffron, egg yolks, and 3 tablespoons of the chicken broth.
- Add the parboiled rice to this mixture and gently mix until the rice is well coated.
- In a non-stick pot or ovenproof dish, spread the oil or melted butter at the bottom.
- Add half of the saffron-yogurt rice mixture and press it down.
- Layer the shredded chicken pieces on top.
- Cover the chicken with the remaining rice mixture, pressing down gently to ensure it’s evenly spread.
- Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil. Cook on low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. The aim is to create a crispy golden crust (called tahdig) at the bottom while the rice fully cooks.
- If using an oven, preheat it to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Once cooked, place a large plate on top of the pot and carefully invert the pot to release the Tahchin.
- The golden crust should be on top. Garnish with barberries, almonds, or pistachios if desired.
Tahchin Morgh is a symphony of flavors and textures. The crunchy crust contrasts beautifully with the soft and fragrant saffron rice and juicy chicken. Serve it with a side of salad or yogurt, and you have a complete Persian meal to delight your guests!
If you’re embarking on making Tahchin Morgh or venturing into Persian cuisine, here are some valuable tips to enhance your experience and the final dish:
Certainly! If you’re embarking on making Tahchin Morgh or venturing into Persian cuisine, here are some valuable tips to enhance your experience and the final dish:
- Saffron: To get the most out of saffron, grind the threads and mix with hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the color, aroma, and flavor to release.
- Parboiling Rice: Don’t overcook the rice during the parboiling process. The rice should be slightly soft on the outside but still firm inside.
- Avoid Stickiness: To prevent the rice from becoming sticky, wash it multiple times until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch.
- Tahdig (Crispy Layer): Achieving the perfect tahdig can be a bit tricky. Using a non-stick pot or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet can help in getting that crisp bottom. Remember to monitor the heat to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Steam Formation: To create more steam inside the pot and make the rice fluffier, you can wrap the lid of your pot with a clean kitchen towel. This will help in absorbing excess moisture.
- Flavor Boost: Consider marinating the chicken for a few hours before cooking. Using ingredients like yogurt, lemon juice, saffron, and some spices can enhance the flavor profile.
- Additional Layers: For a richer Tahchin, you can layer fried eggplants or thinly sliced boiled potatoes at the bottom. This not only adds flavor but also creates an additional crispy layer.
- Presentation: When turning out the Tahchin onto a plate, do so confidently and swiftly to prevent breakage.
- Accompaniments: Tahchin goes wonderfully with pickles, salads, and yogurt dips. A popular choice is “Mast-o-Khiar”, a yogurt dip made with cucumbers, mint, and sometimes raisins.
- Storing Leftovers: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When reheating, a quick way to revive the crispy bottom is to pan-fry slices until they’re golden and crunchy again.
Remember, like with all dishes, practice makes perfect. The more you make Tahchin Morgh, the better you’ll get at perfecting the texture and flavors to your liking. Enjoy the process and the delicious outcome!