Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

September 20, 2011
Irene Saiger


Persian Rice with Tadigh

Rice was a staple in my mother’s kitchen. Always prepared in the most basic way, it was never the centerpiece of the meal but occupied the role of ” the starchy” side dish.  My mother bought Uncle Ben’s and cooked it in salted boiling water.  Period.  There were two ways that it was served, with hot milk and sugar for a dairy meal, and in sort of a sticky mass for meat meals.  The rice didn’t elicit any response when it came to the table, it was like eating white bread, just sort of there.  My mother was a great cook so I attribute this lack of imagination to the fact that she grew up in Poland where I am sure she was raised eating potatoes (which she always prepared well, and in numerous ways) but, of course, my sister disagrees.

The first time I tasted Persian rice with Tadigh was when my children began attending a Jewish day school in Los Angeles that had a large Persian population.  The special preparation of this dish produces a tender, fluffy and fragrant rice that sometimes includes a thick, pale yellow crust (tadigh).  The crust is both chewy and crunchy, and since there is only one layer of it, everyone wants to get an even share. 

I was determined to learn how to prepare Tadigh, and so over the years I have tried various recipes, this being the one that I now use.  For those of us who live in Los Angles, Persian rice is not a particularly unusual or exotic dish, but for those of you who live in other parts of the country, I encourage you to try this.  It may take a little getting use to, but I promise that it’s worth the effort.  You’ll never be satisfied with a bowl of Uncle Ben’s again.

rice after soaking in water

rice formed into a pyramid

rice with lid wrapped in tea towel

 Persian Rice with Tadigh

2 cups Basmati Rice


4 quarts water

4 Tbs vegetable oil

1/4 tsp turmeric

2 Tbs water

Rinse rice in a bowl of cold water several times, till water is no longer cloudy, about 4 times.  Drain and submerge rice under warm water and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Bring a wide-bottomed pot filled with 4 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil.  Add the rice and cook for 7 minutes. Drain.

Wipe pot dry with a paper towel.  Place 3 Tbs of the oil in the pot, add the turmeric and stir.  Tilt pan to cover entire bottom with oil.  Pour rice into pan, making sure that the bottom of the pan is covered with rice.  Then gently pull extra rice towards the center to form a pyramid. Poke several holes into the rice with the back of a wooden spoon.  Sprinkle rice with remaining oil.  Cover lid with a dish towel and tie on the top.  Cover pot, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Then lower heat ( as low as possible)  and cook for at least 30- 45 more minutes.  Crust will form on bottom.  Invert and serve with crust on top.  Serves 6-8 people


16 thoughts on “Persian Rice with Tadigh

  1. As opposed to Persian, Polish or Jewish, our family was 1st & 2nd generation Irish. My mom only ate (and served rice) with Chinese food. She was a potato gal. But growing up, all my friends, save one, were Chinese and further, I grew up to become an ESL teacher for. .. of course, Asians (mostly). I have learned to love rice, and as my closest friend is married to a Persian have had the pleasure and privilege of eating TADIG. I think only 2 corrections to the above would improve it. 1/2 oil + 1/2 butter (I use canola oil, so the butter flavor is not masked). The turmeric is not needed – just water, oil and rice. If cooked properly, the bottom will become golden brown without the addition of spice. Soaking the rice in tap water for 2-24 hours, after rinsing, is how many Persians do it & NEVER with Uncle Ben’s – only Persian Basmati.

    There is another Persian rice recipe that uses orange zest, fruit & nuts. ‘Jeweled’ Rice. It’s good, too.



    • Good morning Sharon,

      Coming from a Polish background, we ate lots of potatoes as well. Who doesn’t love potatoes!! If you enjoy immigrant stories, I highly recommend Brooklyn and Someone.

      Thanks for commenting!!


  2. Irene, I thank you for this recipe, I have made it twice and have been successful. I love it! But for some reason when you make it is even more delicious…you just have that touch!

    • We both have been exposed to the food in the Persian community through our children and how lucky we are!! I think it was at the Rebecca’s home that I first tasted this.

      Thanks Susan but I am sure that is not so. Alex ate with us on Friday night so she got to taste it!


      • It was good, however, it is not the same using regular oil, or tumeric, you really need olive oil and saffron for it to taste the way its suppose to.

        • Thanks for e-mailing. It is interesting because the recipe came from someone who is Persian but maybe economics plays a role in substituting tumeric for saffron. I am not particularly fond of saffron though.


  3. i love to try this rice, i make it different but your looks amazing, take care

  4. I remember having this wonderful rice when my kids also went to school….. This really is awesome and a great addition to uncle Ben’s!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Hi, Irene.

    I did some research regarding the Polish diet because of our discussion last night regarding rice. There was no informaiton as to when rice arrived in Poland but I do remember mommy saying that they ate a rice (RAZ) pudding. Here is some information about food in Poland. You were definitely right about potatoes and why we love bread so much.

    They allude to rice being served in a sweet pudding with fruit. I agree that I never really liked rice growing up because the way mommy made it was not that great. I have only learned to like rice as an adult and now I really enjoy it. Here is some information about the Polish diet just for the halibut:

    “The mainstays of the Polish diet are meat, bread, and potatoes. For many Poles, dinner is not dinner without meat. Bread is consumed and treated with reverence. In the past, if a piece of bread fell on the ground, it was picked up with reverence, kissed, and used to make the sign of a cross. Peasants trace a cross on the bottom of a loaf of bread with a knife before slicing it. Poles consume three-hundred pounds of potatoes per capita per year. Vegetables consumed are local cool weather crops such as beets, carrots, cabbage and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). Another important source of nutrition is milk in various forms such as fresh or sour milk, sour cream, buttermilk, whey, cheese, and butter. A sweet dish may consist of pancakes or rice baked with apples or other fruit”.

    Anyway, as always the blog was great. Thanks for noting that our mother was a great cook. I think that she was in her own way. She did not use cook books. She remembered what her mother and her aunts cooked and she made simple and wholesome meals for us. They were not fancy but I sometimes long for her apple studel or yagdeh bilkalech (blueberry buns) or lokshen kugel. She was definitely the best cook in our whole family.

    Love you,

  6. thanks so much. I have tried several methods with minimal success. We seldom had rice at your house. Potato was the starch of choice, kasha and for holidays farfel with mushrooms. My mom looked for farfel some time ago without success. Guess it was replaced by quinoa! Boy I can hear my dad’s voice with that bit of news. When my kids asked him if they had pineapple or various other foods in Poland. He always had one answer,” we had potatoes and cabbage. We never heard of lettuce, rice” and I can now add quinoa.

    Shana Tova

    • You sound just like my sister. Read her comment, she did research!!!! My mother did remember oranges arriving from Israel but you had to be very well off to be able to buy them.

      I can come make it with you any time!!!


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