What is Tahchin?
Tahchin is one of the many Iranian dishes, which is mostly served in ceremonies and celebrations or special occasions. If I were to translate it to English I would be called “yellow rice cake “which is consists of two parts. A layer of cooked meat, chicken or vegetables which is sandwiched between the main layers.
The main layer is made of rice, yogurt, eggs and saffron.
You can put anything in the middle of main layers like meat, chicken, fish, duck, goose or even only vegetables (mixed of stir-fried mushroom, onion and eggplant).
Below you can learn how to cook a chicken Tahchin which is one of the most popular kind of Tahchin in Iran.
Ingredients to serve for 4 people
For the main layer
- 3 cups white basmati rice
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cup Greek-style yoghurt* (yoghurt must be really thick)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1tsp generous ground saffron
- ½ cup of vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Rose water* (optional)
For the middle layer
- 600 g Chicken breast fillet
- 2 cups of water
- Salt and pepper
- 2 medium-size onion thinly sliced
- ½ tbs turmeric
- 2 tbs salted butter
- 4 tbs dried barberries*(Barberries are a sour, dried fruit available from Middle Eastern food shops)
- 1tbs vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic
barberries, slivered almonds or pistachios *(optional)
- Grind saffron with a small mortar and pestle before soaking in very hot water, around 2 hours before use
- Rinse and drain the rice with cold water gently several times until the water runs clear and soak it for an hour in salty cold water.
- Boiled 2 litres of water in a pot and add the soaked rice in then cook the rice for a few minutes until the rice becomes semi-soft. Drain with a strainer.
- Peel the onion and sliced it thinly. Then fry it in a frying pan with vegetable oil until it turns to brownish-gold you also can add a pinch of turmeric powder if you like to reach a beautiful colour.
- Cook the chicken in a pot of water with a half a chopped onion, garlic, Turmeric, vinegar, salt and pepper. Then shredded the chicken fillets with two forks.
- Sift the pot’s content through a sieve to get the chicken stock and use it later.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl and mix with ½ of melted butter, 1 tbsp of salt and yoghurt. Add ½ of the soaked saffron and Rose water. Mix well.
- Add cooked rice and mix it again gently with a large spoon.
- Fry lightly the shredded chicken with salted butter and ½ of the soaked saffron. Then add the fried onion and mix well.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C or 375°F.
- You can use any type of pot or pan to cook Tahchin in, but it is better to use a good nonstick coated pan. Select an oven dish or a cake tin and line it with cooking paper or spray some oil over. Then spread half of the rice mixture in the bottom and press it with a wide spatula.
- Add the chicken mixture (or vegetable or lamb mixture) and cover the yellowish rice texture with.
- This time cover the chicken mixture with the rest of rice mixture and press them with a wide spatula.
- Spread ½ cup of chicken stuck on top and loosely cover your dish with aluminium foil.
- Set your dish in the centre of preheated oven for around one hour. (Cooking times greatly depend on the kind of oven and the dish you are using)
- You need to keep an eye on your dish for the last half hour to make sure you do not get a burnt crust. Check the sides and top, it should be golden, lightly browned crust.
How to serve Tahchin
When you find nice golden-brown top and side, it’s time to take your dish out of the oven. Use a knife to loosen the rice from the sides before it sticks to the sides of the dish.
Use a small saucepan to stir fry the barberries with some butter and slivered almond or pistachio over medium-low heat just for 2 minutes until the barberries are shiny. Just pay attention the barberries as they are very sensitive and they will burn easily on very high heat. Do not cook them too long.
Place a large tray (or platter or chopping board) on top of the baking dish and holding tight with both hands flip to release the cake onto the tray.
Cut them in small pieces and decorate them with barberries to serve. Enjoy!