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The goal in cooking this dish is to end up with separate fluffy grains of rice that are not at all moist. The tastiest part of this Persian-style pilaf is the tahdig, or crust, that forms on the bottom of the pan. Serve with the Chicken Kebabs, along with sliced cucumbers and radishes, fresh herb sprigs (mint, parsley, tarragon and cilantro) and plain yogurt.

slideshow Delicious, Quick Side Dishes

  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • Generous pinch of saffron threads, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water


  1. Wash the rice thoroughly. Transfer it to a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons salt and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak for 2 to 3 hours. Drain well.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, bring 4 quarts of water to a vigorous boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and gradually sprinkle in the rice. Stir gently and bring back to a boil. Boil the grains just until tender outside but still slightly resistant at the core, about 4 minutes. Drain the rice in a sieve and rinse under tepid water to cool.
  3. Return the saucepan to high heat and add the oil. In a bowl, whisk the yogurt and egg together, then stir in 2/3 cup of the rice. Carefully spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan in the sizzling oil. Gradually sprinkle the rest of the rice into the pan in a mound. Poke 4 deep holes in the rice.
  4. Cover the saucepan with a lid wrapped in a tea towel and cook over moderately high heat until steam builds up, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook for 30 minutes; the rice is done when the grains are tender and fluffy. Set the saucepan in 1 inch of cold water for 1 minute.
  5. Scoop 1/2 cup of the cooked rice into a bowl and toss with the dissolved saffron. Mound the rest of the rice on a platter. Top with the saffron rice. Scrape the crust from the bottom of the pan, arrange it on the rice and serve.
Contributed By Published January 1997

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