Tahchin is a Persian crispy rice dish that’s stuffed with aromatic chicken. The dish is cooked in the oven and then flipped upside down, revealing a saffron-infused crispy rice exterior with a fluffy, pillowy rice interior. The chicken that sits between the rice layers is combined with dried barberries, a sweet and sour fruit, and salty pistachios to elevate all flavours and textures. If you can’t find barberries you can easily replace them with dried cranberries.
Tahchin does have many moving parts, but it can come together fairly quickly. It’s a celebratory dish that’s worth every ounce of effort. We recommend reading all the directions before starting to ensure success when multitasking. Our last tip is to use a high-quality glass baking dish (we like Pyrex) and oil it really, really well so when the dish gets flipped at the end it comes out without a hitch.
Related: Persian Lentil Soup (Adasi)
Place the rice in a large bowl, cover with water, drain and repeat until water runs clear. Put the rice in a sieve to let the excess water drain.
If you have a mortar and pestle, place the saffron inside, work to a powder, then add 3 tablespoons hot water allowing it to bloom. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use the back of a wooden spoon.
Put a pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, then toss in the onion. Saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add the cumin, turmeric and cinnamon.
Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the onion pan, place the chicken in the pan and season one side with salt and pepper. Cook 6-8 minutes per side. Flip and season the other side with salt and pepper. If the pan is getting dry, add another small glug of olive oil.
Spoon in 2 teaspoons of the saffron water and the lemon juice. Remove everything from the pan and shred the chicken into pieces using two forks.
If you’re using barberries, give them a quick rinse. If you’re using dried cranberries and they’re quite plump, chop them into smaller pieces.
Wipe out the pan the chicken was in, place it back on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. Toss in the barberries, cook for 1 minute, then add honey (if using) and pistachios, remove from the heat after 2 minutes. If you’re using cranberries, you can omit the honey since they’re already quite sweet.
Take half of the cranberry-pistachio mixture and toss it in with the shredded chicken. Set the rest of it aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and season with 2 tablespoons salt. Toss in the rice, immediately give it a stir, simmer uncovered for 6 minutes, just so it’s parboiled. Remove and rinse with cold water.
Now to assemble the sauce for the rice: In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, yogurt, 5 teaspoons saffron mixture and 2 tablespoons olive oil until creamy.
Add to the rice and mix until well coated.
Heat oven to 400°F.
Oil a glass baking dish or oven-safe skillet with 4 tablespoons of oil on the bottom and up along the sides.
Spoon in half of the rice and flatten to even out. Next, add the chicken mixture and then place the remaining rice on top. Press down firmly on the rice. Add 4 teaspoons of butter in different areas on top of the rice.
Cover the baking dish with foil and make a few slits in it. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Let it rest for 5 minutes, then carefully place a large platter or cutting board on top of the baking dish, use oven mitts and swiftly flip the dish over. It should easily come out.
Top the final dish with the additional pistachios and barberries.