‘Tahdig’ might just be the most underrated (and unknown) foods on the planet. It’s the crispy sliced potatoes you see on top of the rice in the picture above.
Let us break this down for you as best as we can: You know when you make a pot of rice, and the bottom of the pot is a little burnt? Well, that’s the caviar of the entire pot for Persians. They enhance it by adding oil on the bottom, along with some sliced potatoes, which creates a protective shell for the rice as it steams, and in return, you get bonus deep-fried carbs when you flip the pot onto a plate.
Yes, we know adding that kind of oil isn’t exactly plant-based, but hey — it’s still vegan, and every now and then we’re allowed to indulge, aren’t we?
Here’s the recipe, adapted from the NY Times, with our own twist:
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 5 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter
- Fine sea salt or kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as canola
- 1 Potato
- Ground cumin
- Place rice in a bowl and rinse with cold water. Swirl vigorously with your fingers to release the starch, and change the water at least five times, until it runs clear. Once the water runs clear, let rice soak for 30 minutes.
- Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Slice potatoes, about 1/2 inch thick.
- Once water comes to a boil, season it very heavily with either 6 tablespoons fine sea salt or a generous 1/2 cup kosher salt and the ground turmeric. (Don’t worry about oversalting; the rice will spend only a few minutes in this water.) Drain the rice you’re soaking, then add it to the pot and stir. Set a fine-mesh sieve or colander in the sink. Cook rice, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes. Drain into the sieve, then rinse with cold water to keep rice from cooking further. Drain rice well and place in a large bowl.
- In your pot, add enough oil to cover the entire bottom. Add sliced potatoes, and a pinch of cumin and sea salt.
- Pile remaining rice into the pan, mounding it gently toward the center. DO NOT PAT DOWN THE RICE! If you pack it, it won’t come out well. Just spoon the rice gently over the potatoes. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gently dig 6 holes into the rice down to the bottom of the pot, which will be barely sizzling. Dig 5 of the holes about 2 inches from the sides of the pan, and put one in the center. (The holes will allow steam to escape from the bottommost layer of rice and allow a crisp crust to form.) There should be enough oil in the pan that you can see it bubbling up the sides; add a little more oil along the edges of the rice if needed to see these bubbles. Add 4 slices of butter spread evenly across the rice.
- Wrap a lid with a kitchen towel and cover pan. Turn the heat as low as it will go and continue cooking another 45 minutes, rotating the pan a quarter turn every 10 to 12 minutes. The rice is done when it’s cooked completely through.
- To unmold the rice, carefully run an offset spatula or butter knife along the edges of the pan to ensure that no part of the crust is sticking. Tip out any excess fat at the bottom of the pan into a bowl, gather your courage, and then carefully flip it onto a platter or cutting board. Serve immediately. It pairs well with curry and yogurt.