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Chelo ba Tahdig

Slofoodgroup Team December 16, 2023

What Is Chelo ba Tahdig?

Chelo ba Tahdig, is a popular Persian dish and accompaniment to many Iranian entrées. It is essentially a fluffy rice with a crispy golden crust. Making Chelo ba Tahdig is a bit of an art form, with several steps involved. It isn’t difficult, but it does require patience.

Basmati rice first needs to be rinsed to remove excess starch. It is then soaked and parboiled. A simple saffron water also needs to be created and mixed with butter and oil before adding a layer of rice to the pot. Once the remainder of the rice is mounded atop, you’ll find tricks like poking holes to allow the steam to escape from the first layer and wrapping the lid with a flour sack will help to ensure a crispy crust on bottom while steaming a  perfectly fluffy rice on top. Finally, you need confidence and speed to flip the tahdig quickly onto a plate to keep the crust in tact. The result is a fragrant, flavorful, and impressive culinary side dish that will engage a multitude of senses.

How to Make the Perfect Tahdig


  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads


  1. Place your rice in a mesh colander over a bowl. Fill with water and use your hands to toss the rice to remove excess starch. Replace the water frequently, running more water over the rice until the water runs clear. Let the rice continue to soak in the clear water as you carry out the next steps.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or a bowl and the back of a spoon, crush the saffron.
  3. Add the saffron to ¼ cup hot water, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the rice and add it to a large pot. Fill the pot with water, covering the rice by several inches of water.
  5. Stir in the salt and bring the water to a boil. Continue to boil for about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Drain the rice and set aside.
  7. Heat a large pot or well-seasoned cast iron dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Melt half of the butter, the olive oil, and half of the saffron water into the bottom of the pan.
  8. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of rice about 1-inch thick and press it down firmly, but taking care not to mash it.
  9. Mound the remaining rice atop of the first layer so it creates a sort of pyramidal shape.
  10. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes down the pyramidal layer, without piercing the bottom inch of rice. The holes should be placed about 2-inches apart to allow steam to escape from the bottom layer..
  11. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
  12. Melt the remaining butter in a small dish and whisk in the remaining saffron water.
  13. Carefully lift the lid, and drizzle the saffron/butter mixture over the top of the rice..
  14. Turn the heat down to low, placing a clean towel or flour sack between the lid and the pan to capture excess steam.
  15. Allow the rice to sit for 25 minutes.
  16. Lift the lid and carefully run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan to release the rice.
  17. Put a platter overtop of the pan. Holding tightly, quickly and carefully flip the pan to release the tahdig onto the plate.