there are a couple methods for making persian-style rice, and the easier/simpler method is called kateh. the resulting rice is typically more sticky than that of other cooking methods, and the tahdig (highly-coveted, thick rice crust at the bottom of the pot) doesn’t always come out as thick and crunchy. regardless, it still has the amazing aroma that comes with basmati rice, and it’s a simple addition to any persian dish!
when i was younger, i’d always ask my mom to let me make the kateh when she would make it for dinner or sunday afternoon meal. with her guidance and attention to timing, it always, always turned out great–tahdig included. i used to think i was the master of making kateh, but now that i have to make it on my own, i realize that this was not the case! after a couple nearly-failed attempts (read: too mushy, too salty, no tahdig, etc.), i’ve finally mastered the texture and taste associated with a good kateh, and the only left for me to do is get a good non-stick pot so my tahdig will actually come out (this is key!!)
having had to explain to my roommate recently why we wrap the pot lid with a towel (it’s to collect the steam towards the end of the cooking), and what tahdig is (the best part of persian food, hands down), i figured it’s a good idea to do a little post on this!
recipe (serves 3):
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable/canola oil
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron dissolved in 1-2 tablespoon of hot water (optional)
- add rice to a non-stick pot and rinse 3-4 times, or until water runs clear
- add measured water to pot (alternatively, add enough water to cover rice by ½ inch), and salt, to taste–test the water, it should taste salty, but not too salty! allow rice to soak for at least 45 minutes before turning on heat
- turn stove on medium/high heat, and let rice absorb water (without lid)
- when the rice has absorbed most of the water (NOT ALL!) add the oil and gently stir the pot, allowing oil to seep to the bottom
- cover the pot lid tightly with a clean, thick cloth or dish towel, and place on pot
- allow rice to cook for 40-50 minutes on low-medium heat
- (optional) when rice has cooked, take a couple spoonfuls and place in a bowl, pour saffron mixture over rice and fluff with a fork until the rice has turned a bright yellow/orange color. this is used for garnishing the rice
- either place a dish over the pot and flip for a cake-looking rice, or spoon out the rice gently and remove the tahdig (if present) separately. spoon saffron rice over, serve with kabobs or stews and enjoy!