Foods that Remind Us of Home #1 – White Rice with Tahdig (Crust)

We recently asked out facebook group what dishes reminded them of home. Leila is of Iraqi-Iranian descent. When she was studying abroad she would often make rice, persian-style, with a thick crust at the bottom when she was homesick. Here’s her recipe:

“This is a really imprecise recipe, because I learned from my mom, who learned from her mom, etc. Recently, I tried teaching my brother. The recipe is per cup of rice, so double or triple accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • White basmati rice (long-grain)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp corn or vegetable oil
  • Water, to boil

Required tools:

  • Large measuring cup/ bowl
  • Large, flat bottom non-stick cooking pot with top
  • Wooden spoon
  • Colander (optional, but recommended)
  • Large serving plate (also optional)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Clean dish towel

Method:
1. Fill the cooking pot 3/4 with water and set on high to start boiling. Add 1/2 tsp of salt.
2. Wash the rice three times, to remove the starch in the rice
3. Once the water is boiling, add the rice.
4. After about ten minutes, or until the rice is half-cooked (fish out a grain or two and taste it, it should be chewy, like half-cooked pasta) drain the rice by dumping it into the colander.
5. Rinse the rice in cold water, and replace the pot on the stove.
6. Heat the pot and add 1 tbsp oil to the rice. Set the stove to medium heat.
7. Add the rice back to the pot, add the remaining salt (1tsp) and oil (1tbsp), and stir so that they are spread evenly.
8. Add a little bit of water for a crispy bottom (1/4 c maximum).
9. Reduce the heat to low or simmer.
10. Cover the pot cover with the dish, to absorb the steam. Leave to cook for the desired amount of time.*
11. Once the rice is done, take it off the stove, and you can serve it like a cake: take a large serving plate and cover the top of the pot. You might need another person to “catch” it after, and I recommend doing this part over the sink. The person flipping the rice will take the pot by the handles (wear oven mitts), and also hold the plate over the pot securely. Flip it, and the second person should be ready to hang onto the plate as it comes down.

*For a crispy bottom, called tahdig (tah-deeg) in Farsi, you can leave it for up to a couple of hours on low. If you just want to eat rice now, it should be done in ten to fifteen minutes

Variation with the potato bottom:

Additional ingredients:
2-3 large yellow potatoes, sliced lengthwise like chips.
Slice them thickly, about 3/4cm.

Change in method:
Once the oil is heating the pot, spread it evenly.
After you have drained the rice, place the potato “chips” down in the pot. Try to cover the entire surface of the pot.
Then cover with the half-cooked rice, and continue as before.

Photo by flickr user Novon.

Are there any dishes that you like to make when you are homesick? Tell us about them in the comment section and maybe we’ll feature the recipe on our blog.

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