As impressive as it is delicious



I’ve got something seriously special to share with you today! It’s a cake, yep cake, made with rice and yogurt. Tahchin, a Persian dish, is an intricate blend of flavors, including saffron and barberries. We’re talking a layer of fragrant rice infused with saffron and yogurt, tender shredded chicken plus barberries and pistachios. It’s like a flavor explosion in every bite! And FYI, this was NOT easy to make but it was oh so good!

Dallas resident, Leili, shares her cultural heritage through this Persian dish. Combining yogurt, chicken and rice, tahchin offers a unique experience with an intricate preparation, often reserved for special occasions. Leili’s familial connection to tahchin underscores the pride inherent in Persian culture, inviting others to partake in the joy of sharing food and tradition.

To prepare this stovetop version of tahchin, start by candying barberries, then adding pistachios, shredded chicken and salt, allowing them to cook until fragrant. Meanwhile, soak the rice for an hour before cooking it and draining excess water. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, yogurt, oil and saffron water. Once combined, fold in the cooked rice until evenly coated. Then melt your butter in a large pot to get it nice and hot. Layer this rice mixture with the chicken mixture in the middle. Cover the pot with a paper towel and lid, and cook until the tahchin is set. Once cooked, place the pot in ice water for a few minutes to help release it from the pot. Carefully flip the tahchin onto a plate. Finally, garnish with fresh cilantro and additional barberries. Enjoy!

Tahchin isn’t your average rice dish. It’s a masterpiece that requires patience, some skill and a little bit of luck. From brining the rice to that tricky flipping maneuver. Again, I won’t sugarcoat it – tahchin can be a challenge. But even when things don’t go according to plan, there’s beauty in the process. It’s about the journey, the learning and the sheer joy of creating something delicious. I challenge you to give it a try.

Watch the Video


  • 2 cups long grain rice Basmati or Jasmine
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 6 Tbsp saffron solution ½ tsp ground saffron soaked in 6- 7 Tbsp hot water for 5 minutes
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken such as rotisserie chicken
  • cup barberries
  • cup pistachios chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbsp grapeseed oil or other high-smoking point oil


Clean and brine the rice

  • Clean your rice.
  • When it’s clean, cover your rice with water ending 1 inch above the top, add four tablespoons of table salt, and stir to mix.
  • Let the rice rest in the salt brine for at least one hour.

Make saffron solution

  • Make your saffron solution by grinding saffron threads into ½ teaspoon of ground saffron and soaking it in hot water for at least five minutes.

Boil the rice

  • After the rice has brined for at least an hour, fill a thick-bottomed pot half full of water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the rice and brine solution to the boiling pot.
  • Boil the rice, stirring once every minute (to prevent rice grains settling at the bottom of the pot) until the rice grains are almost cooked (AKA al dente). To make sure you catch the rice at the right stage, start examining the rice grains about five minutes after you have started boiling them.
  • Al Dente (for rice) means the rice grains are cooked and soft on the outer layer but still hard in the center (This will take about seven minutes).
  • Place a colander in the sink. Once the rice is al dente, pour the pot of water and rice into the colander. WARNING: Be careful not to burn yourself!
  • Run cold tap water through the rice mixture in the colander to wash away some of the starch. Shake the colander to force the water out of the rice. Repeat the cold water rinse a second time.
  • NOTE: Running cold water through the cooked rice at this stage ensures large grains have the desired texture (not sticky). Once the rice has been rinsed twice, leave the colander in the sink for the water to drain.

Make the rice and yogurt mix

  • Stir together the yogurt, egg yolks and vegetable oil and four tablespoons of the saffron solution in a large bowl.
  • Add the drained rice and salt and pepper to taste and stir thoroughly. This results in a saffron colored mixture resembling rice pudding.

Make the chicken and barberry mix

  • Candy the barberries by cooking in a medium-sized frying pan with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of sugar for three minutes, while stirring frequently.
  • Add the chicken and pistachios to the candied barberries in the frying pan. Stir to combine and set aside.

Assemble and cook the Tahchin

  • Put a non-stick pot on the stove and set the heat on medium high (4 or 5 out of a maximum 10 setting). The pot used for boiling the rice and steaming the rice is usually the same one. Make sure your pot is thick-bottomed. A glass lid is preferred for cooking Persian rice.
  • Put the grapeseed oil and two tablespoons of unsalted butter into the pot. Butter is used for flavor and grapeseed oil is used because it has a high smoke point and helps prevent the butter from burning.
  • Add the remaining two tablespoons of your prepared saffron solution with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Swirl the saffron oil mixture around to ensure thorough coverage of the bottom and about two inches up the sides of the pot (this helps prevent the Tahchin rice and yogurt mix from sticking to the pot).
  • Spoon half of the rice/yogurt mixture into the pot.
  • Use the back of a spoon or silicon spatula to gently press down and spread the rice/yogurt mixture evenly across the bottom of the pot.
  • Place the chicken/barberry mix over the rice/yogurt layer. Spread to make sure an even layer. Again, use the back of a spoon to gently spread the mixture evenly across the layer of rice/yogurt.
  • Spoon the rest of the rice/yogurt mixture over the chicken/barberry layer. Again, use the back of the spoon to spread the rice/yogurt mixture evenly.
  • Put the lid on the pot and cook on medium-high setting (dial setting 5 out of 10) for about five minutes or until the inside of the lid begins to show condensation and starts to drip down to the sides of the lid (using a pot with glass lid makes this observation easy).
  • After the condensation begins, remove the lid, and place a paper towel (or cloth kitchen rag) on the open mouth of the pot and place the lid over the towel. The towel acts as a gasket to seal the pot.
  • Lower the temperature to medium-low setting (dial setting 3 out of 10). Cook for 45 minutes.
  • IMPORTANT: The temperature profile is different on every cooktop. Regardless, experiment and find out where exactly medium-low is on your cooktop to produce the crunchiest Tahchin layer without burning it! This may mean you have to burn and ruin a couple of batches of Persian Tahchin before you discover the right setting for cooking the perfect crunchy Tahchin!

Finish cooking and serve Tahchin

  • About five minutes before the 45-minute cooking time is over, fill the kitchen sink with four inches of cold water.
  • Lift the lid, remove the towel, and quickly carry the pot to the kitchen sink and place in the cold water (you’ll hear a loud sizzle)! WARNING: Be careful not to burn your hands; the handles are hot! This cold bath helps separate the bottom crunchy layer of Tahchin from the hot metal pot.
  • Remove the pot from the cold water and place it on a towel on the kitchen counter. Placing the pot on the towel helps dry the bottom of the pot.
  • To remove the Tahchin mold from the pot, place a round serving platter (larger than your pot’s diameter) on the open pot and invert both holding them tightly together (be careful not to burn yourself or drop the pot and the platter!) This will cause the rice and crunchy Tahchin layer (which is now separated from the bottom of the pot, thanks to the cold water!) to drop down onto your serving platter!
  • NOTE: If the crunchy Tahchin does not separate perfectly from the pot in a mold, you can remove the pieces still stuck to the pot using a spoon or spatula.
  • Cut the crunchy Tahchin mold to expose the tasty stuffing of chicken, candied barberries and pistachios and enjoy with a salad or other favorite side dish!


Recipe inspired by Cafe Bagheri
Course: Dinner
Region: Asia
Diet: Gluten Free


You May Also Like