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Persian-Style Baked Saffron Rice with Chicken
1 hour 50 minutes 30 minutes active, plus soaking
Tahchin is a traditional Persian dish of basmati rice mixed with saffron, yogurt and egg yolks, then baked into a cake. For serving, the rice is inverted out of the baking vessel, revealing the tahdig, or the crisp, deeply browned crust, which many consider the main attraction of the dish. Though tahchin can be plain, it often is filled with cooked vegetables or meat. Here, we make tahchin morgh, or tahchin with chicken. We take a shortcut, however, and simply layer uncooked pieces of seasoned chicken thighs into the rice so they bake right into the grains. For even cooking, it’s important to soak and parboil the rice in generously salted water, then drain it well to remove excess moisture that otherwise would cause the rice to become soggy. Dried barberries are a traditional ingredient in tahchin, but instead we use easier to source dried currants to add pops of sweet-tart flavor. You will need a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate for this recipe. The glass not only conducts heat well so the rice forms a nice bottom crust, it also allows you to monitor browning. For make-ahead convenience, the rice can be put into the pie plate, covered and refrigerated for up to eight hours. When you’re ready to bake, drizzle on the melted butter, cover with foil and bake as directed (no need to increase the timing). A bright tomato-onion salad is a nice accompaniment to the tahchin.
cups basmati rice
teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled