A unique Persian treat

Have you ever heard of Persian Crispy Rice (Thadig)? I first discovered it myself  when my husband returned from a trip to Iran, where he got this traditional rice dish served by an Iranian family.  It is a crispy, caramelized basmati and saffron rice meal that features different textures. He loved it and I must say, as soon I saw the photos, I knew I had to give it a try as well – and that is how this recipe was created. 

Persian Crispy Rice Cake served on a grey plate sprinkled with pomegranate seeds
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Persian Crispy Rice (Thadig) sprinkled with pomegranate seeds

What is Persian Crispy Rice (Thadig)? 

Tahdig, literally means “bottom of the pot” in Persian. And it refers to a pan-fried Persian rice that is airy and buttery on the inside with a perfectly golden crust on the outside, which is the layer at the bottom of the pot. It includes saffron, which gives it its beautiful, yellow color. 

How to make Persian Crispy Rice (Thadig)

I was a little discouraged at first, when I read about the different techniques to make Thadig, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Just keep in mind: It might not look as beautiful as you would like when you make it the first time, but it’ll surely taste incredible!

You are basically going to build 3 layers of rice: the first one on the bottom gets browned and crispy; and in the second one, you add saffron, yogurt and rice.  In this recipe, I added pomegranate seeds to the third layer to make it taste a little fresher and look even more beautiful. Just before serving, you turn it upside down so you have the wonderful, brown crispy part  on the outside of your ‘rice-cake’. 

Portion of Persian Crispy Rice served on a grey plate sprinkled with pomegranate seeds
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Portion of Persian Crispy Rice

There are 3 main things that you have to take into consideration when you make Thadig:

1) When you first cook the rice, please please please add enough salt (the water should taste super salty, like the sea). It’s the only time you season this dish with salt and the rice will only stay in the salty water for a few minutes. 

2) It is essential that you use a good, non-stick pot. Otherwise, the rice will stick and you won’t be able to get the rice off the bottom of the pan when you turn it upside down. And remember; it’s all about the crust in this recipe!

3) Do not stir the rice once it’s in the pot. I know, I know, sometimes it’s difficult to resist the urge to stir something that is cooking in a pot, but for this recipe you really have to keep your hands away as soon as the rice is in the pot, as this will help create that beautiful, crispy exterior.

If you want to impress with a unique side dish for a special dinner, this Persian Crispy Rice is the one to pick. 

Persian Crispy Rice served with Lamb Skewers on a grey plate, rice cake in the background
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Persian Crispy Rice served with Lamb Skewers
Persian Crispy Rice Cake served on a grey plate sprinkled with pomegranate seeds
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A unique Persian treat
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Persian
Keyword Crispy Rice, Rice Cake, Rice Dish, Saffron, Saffron Rice
Prep Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 5 people


Persian Crispy Tahdig Rice with Saffron and Pomegranate Seeds

  • 2 packets of saffron threads approx. 250 mg
  • 400 g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp neutral oil
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds plus more for serving
  • 80 g of butter


Persian Crispy Tahdig Rice with Saffron and Pomegranate Seeds

  • In a large saucepan, bring 2.5 liters of water to a boil. Put the saffron in a small bowl with lukewarm water, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then drain the water. Place the rice in a large, fine-mesh sieve, wash under cold running water until the water runs clear from the rice, and drain.
  • Season the water heavily with about 4 tablespoons of salt, until it tastes very salty. Add the rice and cook for 4 minutes, sieve and drain all the water.
  • Divide the rice and place it in two medium-sized bowls. Add the yogurt, 2 tbsp of neutral oil and saffron to one of the bowls, and the pomegranate seeds to the other one.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan with a very good (non-stick) coating, melt the butter over medium heat, add the rice mixture to the saffron, and spread it out with a spatula to form a layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Place the rice with the pomegranate seeds on top and distribute evenly on the first rice layer.
  • With the handle of a large spoon, make 6 holes (about 1 cm / 0.39 inch) into the rice base, so that steam can release and the rice becomes crispy. Slightly loosen the rice from the pan edges and drizzle 2 tablespoons of neutral oil along the edges and into the holes.
  • Fry the rice over medium heat for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a minimum, cover the saucepan with a kitchen towel, place a lid on it as well, and cook for about 25 minutes until the rice is cooked through.
  • Use a ladle to carefully loosen the edges of the rice from the saucepan. Then, place a plate just slightly smaller than the saucepan over the rice, and with confidence and in one go, turn the saucepan over onto the plate. If the whole base of the rice does not come off, scoop it out with a spoon and place it on the plate.
  • Sprinkle some more pomegranate seeds on top and serve immediately.

Looking for something to serve it with? These Greek Lamb Skewers are the perfect fit!!

Perfect for BBQ season
Check out this recipe
Greek lamb skewers served on a wooden board
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I’m Andrea – chef, recipe creator and the soul of this blog. I’m all about flavorful dishes that you make with passion to treat yourself and your loved ones.

My goal is to create a community to share in our love of food. I also aim to inspire you to try new things and to level up your cooking, so you’ll have all the skills you need to create food that not only nourishes your body, but also your soul.