An Iranian dish with fluffy, rich saffron rice and crispy potato tahdig - fragrant, exotic and oh so delicious! Persian Rice with Potato Tahdig is your comfort food and your go-to for a party!
Today we will talk about a function/custom that originally started during British Raj - The Paagal Gymkhana. There were certain functions in the Army that the ladies and children couldn't attend. There still are, but that's for another day. Anyway, the Paagal Gymkhaana was an equestrian meet for children where various events featuring horses took place. During this time the cavalry regiments all had horses which is a rarity these days. The present day Paagal Gymkhaana is a time for fun and frolic and is held as part of the celebrations of a regiment's Raising Day. The horses are replaced by jeeps though. Jumble the shoe race, Needle and thread race, Walk on the bricks are some common games played by the officers and memsahibs. The highlight of the evening is the tug of war between the officers and the junior commissioned officers or the JCOs. And the best part, the JCO's team always wins! Prize distribution follows and the band plays the regimental tunes.
Coming to the recipe...
Truly exotic but pretty simple to make, Persian Rice is going to be your go-to dish for all the parties.
So, what's a Tahdig?
Tahdig is the crust that forms at the bottom of the cooking pot. Well, 'Tahdig' literally means the bottom of the pot and is the crowning glory of the Iranian cuisine. (A long time ago, Persia was the official name of Iran).
Traditionally, Persian Rice is cooked slowly in a heavy pot over direct heat so that a delicious crust/ tahdig (pronounced as Tah-Deeg) is formed at the bottom. The crust is lifted out and served on top of the soft cooked rice. A staple in every Iranian household, Persian Rice is always the next rice dish you can experiment with. There are many variations of Tahdig - The Rice Tahdig with a crusty layer of 'fried' rice; the Potato Tahdig which we are preparing today; the Bread Tahdig which has a flatbread usually pita; and even Lettuce Tahdig.
I have used Basmati Rice here which you know is fragrant and delicious on its own.
How to Prepare Persian Rice with Potato Tahdig
2 cups of rice
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon green cardamon seeds
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup butter
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoon diced dried apricots
2 tablespoon raisins
¼ cup pistachios
- Boil water in a pan and with salt. Add the rice, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, and cardamon seeds. Parboil the rice and drain.
- Melt butter in a heavy bottom deep pan over medium heat. Spoon off 3 tablespoon of butter for later use.
- Add the sliced potatoes and arrange to form a layer. Sprinkle salt and cook for 5 minutes till the potatoes are soft. Reduce the heat.
- Add sliced onions and rice. Top it with apricots and raisins. Smooth the rice and press down with the back of a large spatula. Drizzle the reserved butter.
- Cover with a lid and the lid with a moist towel. Remember the heat should be low. Cook the pot of rice for about 20-25 minutes to get a crisp layer of potatoes at the bottom, the tahdig.
- To serve, scoop out the rice and top with the potato tahdig. Garnish with chopped pistachios.
Like it? You would definitely want to make it! Pin it for later.
I’m participating in the #AtoZChallenge and I’m posting 26 Party Foods that I make in my Army Wife Kitchen. Follow my posts this April and before you know it, you'll be cooking up a storm. Stay tuned!
That's all for now, folks!
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In 2017 : P as in Pani Puri
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Cheryl Sterling says
I am always looking for easy dishes to prepare. I may try this tonight!
Never heard of this before but an interesting recipe. Good to know about Iranian rice through your post. Pagal gymkhana sounds like fun.
Shilpa Gupte says
I am so hungry, Shalini! And, your images -- i have been meaning to tell you, every image you use is simply brilliant and has such a professional look, as if done by a pro photographer! You are a multi-talented woman, Shalini!
Superb recipes and awesome pictures, oh, and also the write-ups!
SHALINI BAISIWALA says
Mmmmm this is yummy; I love rice dishes and this seems right up my alley. I am salivating at the thought of that crust!
I love this recipe! Tahdig - my husband loves this and only today I learnt what it is called. I'll make this over the weekend, with millets of course 🙂
Ramya Abhinand says
Pagal gymkhana???? This is something new. A lovely practice and opportunity to socialise.. The Persian rice seems to be one aromatic dish. Make it for the bachelor paltan and they would seldom leave your home :))
Balaka Basu says
nice recipe..and enjoyed reading about Pagaal gymkhana.