The bottom layer of this rice pie is all tahdig—the delectable, crispy golden rice that is the highlight of an Iranian meal. Cooking the pie on the stovetop before it goes into the oven gives the rice its signature crunch.
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2¾ teaspoons salt, divided
1¾ teaspoons ground pepper, divided
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
¼ cup dried barberries or dried sour cherries (see Tips)
5⅓ cups water plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2½ cups brown basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground saffron (see Tips)
3 large eggs
3 cups whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine 2 tablespoons oil and turmeric in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add chicken and turn to coat. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part without touching bone registers 160°F, 25 to 30 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Reserve the pan. Remove the meat from the bones and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, soak barberries (or cherries) in ⅓ cup hot water for 30 minutes.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add garlic and cinnamon; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a medium bowl. Wipe out the pan.
Bring 5 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook 5 minutes; drain and set aside.
Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon water and saffron in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in eggs, yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice and the remaining ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Add 1½ cups of the yogurt mixture to the onion. Drain the barberries (or cherries) and add to the onion mixture. Stir in the chicken. Spread the reserved rice on the baking sheet, scraping up any browned bits left from the chicken, then stir it into the remaining yogurt mixture in the large bowl. Let the chicken and rice mixtures marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. Spread half of the rice mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Spread the chicken mixture over the rice, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Top with the remaining rice mixture, smoothing the top with a spatula. Pour butter over the top. Being careful of the hot pan, cover tightly with foil. Cook for 5 minutes.
Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 1¼ hours.
Let the pie cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and run a knife around the edge to loosen the pie. Place a flat serving platter on top of the pan and carefully invert to release the pie from the pan.
Tips: Dried Barberries: These berries have a lemony, sweet-sour tang. Use it up: Swap for currants or dried sour cherries.
Dried Sour Cherries: Also known as dried tart cherries, they have a lip-puckering flavor. Use it up: Stir into granola or oatmeal.
Saffron: These crimson-colored threads are the delicate stigmas of the saffron crocus flower. They lend a vivid golden hue and rich floral flavor. About 90 percent of saffron comes from Iran. Use it up: Add to risotto, rice pudding or paella.
430 calories;23 g fat(6 g sat); 2 g fiber; 33 g carbohydrates; 25 g protein; 15 mcg folate; 137 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 250 IU vitamin A; 3 mg vitamin C; 86 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 506 mg sodium; 298 mg potassium
First all it's a beautiful dish to present to a crowd. It was big enough to feed 10 or more.
It was definitely tasty but could have modifications to suit your taste. Maybe more barberries or using sour cherries instead to give it more of a bite.
Not sure I'll make it again, it was a little involved so definitely something for the weekend. I love Persian food and this didn't disappoint.