Persian basmati rice (or chelow)

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This recipe is a traditional way of cooking basmati rice in Iran. This is the basic recipe which consists in obtaining a non-sticky rice with a thin crust of rice at the bottom at the pan, called “tahdig”. This dish is called “chelow“.

Persian basmati rice

Also called chelow in Persian, this a very classical way of preparing simple persian rice with a crust of rice called tahdig
Servings 4
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins

Equipment

  • Thick-bottomed saucepan

Ingredients

  • 300 g basmati rice
  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • 10 g butter
  • olive oil
  • saffron pistils optional

Instructions

  • Rinse the basmati rice two or three times until the water runs clear. Fill a large casserole dish* with boiling water and add two teaspoons of sea salt. Add the basmati rice and make it "pre-cook" 5-6 minutes: the grain of rice must be still crunchy in the middle and cooked at its ends (al-dente, so to speak). Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking.
    * You need a thick-bottomed saucepan to form the rice crust, the favorite part of the Persian rice, called "Tahdig"
  • The second part of the cooking consists in steaming the rice. Heat the bottom of your casserole dish and pour a generous drizzle of olive oil into it.
    Drop a few grains of rice: if it sizzles, your casserole is hot enough. Otherwise wait a little until it gets hotter. When your oil is hot enough, pour the rice (well drained) in the shape of a pyramid.
    Poke a couple of holes in the rice to allow the steam to circulate. Lower the heat, and cover your lid in a cloth (it will keep the humidity). The lid must close tightly. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes (taste to check if it's cooked).
  • In traditional recipes, you have to let it cook on very low heat for another 30 minutes (in my family we usually stop sooner, when the rice is cooked enough) It also depends on the duration of your pre-cooking and the amount of rice you want to cook.
  • Crush a few saffron pistils in hot water, and pour the water, filtering the saffron on your rice cone, with the butter. Mix. Pour into a big plate, taking care not to break the rice crust that will have formed at the bottom of your casserole dish: the tahdig (the best!). Place it on top of the rice like a crusty pancake, and put some sumac (a spice which is commonly used in persian cuisine) on top and enjoy!

Notes

Alternatives: you can add raw potato slices to the bottom of your pan during the second cooking step. You will then have a tahdig half composed of rice and potatoes.
This recipe is the basic recipe for Persian rice, you can then make variations with fresh herbs (sabzi polo), a sweet and savory version with pistachios, orange zest, almonds, and barberries (chirin polo) for example.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: Rice

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