The Holy Quest for the Perfect Tah-dig

tahdigGrowing up on the Canadian prairies in the ’70s, rice came from a “Minute” emblazoned red box, into to the pot and then the table in five minutes, only to be re-soaked in the sauce equivalent of Alberta crude, China Lily. Thanks to two Iranian roommates, all of that changed for me during grad school when I experienced first-hand the miracle of precision that is Persian rice and its glorious Tah-dig.

My roomy Peiman would spend an enormous amount of time and care in the preparation of the rice. Washing, parboiling, steaming and lining the pot with a bit of oil or butter and thin slices of potato. I think the potato may be a bit of a cheat, but it seems to be a popular one.

The desired outcome is a golden dome. When ready, the rice can be deposited on a plate by flipping it like a bucket of sand on the beach when making sandcastles. If you have done everything right, the result is the holy grail of rice, the perfect Tah-dig.

There are plenty of recipes for Persian rice in The Google, but the essential trick is to parboil your rice for 5 minutes then rinse a lot, then line the bottom of the pan with some butter or oil (thin slices of potato optional) and then cook on low heat for a half hour or so. You can add herbs, saffron, nuts, lentils or whatever you want, in small quantities. Some recommend steam vents in the rice via a spoon handle. Peiman also recommends a cloth or paper rag between the lid and pot to stop condensation from re-soaking the rice.

Some say that to loosen the Tah-dig so you can flip it, lower the bottom of the pan into cold water. Others say to serve the mound of fluffy rice separate from the Tah-dig, which deserves its own special plate of honor.

You will not get this right the first time, or maybe even the fifth time, because it is hard to see what’s going on. Peiman says to wet your finger and touch the side of the pot. If is makes a sizzling sound the rice may be done. I don’t know if he is having me on with this one or not. He’s a bit mischievous.

Good luck!

Photo by flickr user Novon.


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