Persian Rice with Potato Tahdig

An Iranian dish with perfectly steamed saffron rice and crispy fried potatoes.

Persian Rice with Potato Tahdig

  • Servings: 4 servings

This saffron-scented rice with crispy potatoes has been a staple in my life for so many years now, that I can’t even remember the exact first time I ate it. All I know is that I was in grade school, because that’s when my family (who had immigrated to Canada from Trinidad), met another family (who had immigrated to Canada from Iran). This family had kids who were similar in age to me, and soon we were going over to each others homes for playdates and dinner.


  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus extra for seasoning (preferably kosher or sea salt, use less is using iodized salt)
  • pinch saffron threads, ground or crushed
  • 3 tbsp boiling water
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds, and left soaking in water
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp oil, something neutral with a high smoking point, like grapeseed
  • ¼ cup dried barberries, soaked in hot water, optional


  • Rinse the rice in cold water 2-3 times, or until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
  • Make saffron water by combining ground saffron with boiling water in a small bowl. Set aside to steep.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tbsp of salt. Stir to dissolve salt, then add rice and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Test the texture of the rice between your fingers. The grains should be soft on the edges but still firm in the middle - not fully cooked through. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Drain rice completely and set aside.
  • Drain your potatoes and rinse any residual starch off. Shake off excess water, then pat dry with a towel or paper towel and set aside.
  • Heat the oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. When butter melts, add 1 tbsp of the saffron water (the water may sputter - be careful not to burn yourself!).
  • Add the dry potatoes to the pan in a single flat layer and season with a little salt. Layer the partially cooked rice on top, pressing down on the rice gently to pack it down. Pour 1 tbsp of saffron water over the rice.
  • Poke shallow holes into the rice and push in pats of butter, then smooth the top of the rice again.
  • Place a clean kitchen towel or paper towel on top of the pan, cover with a lid, and wrap the excess towel around the lid. Be careful not to catch your towel on fire - especially if you are using a gas stove!
  • Cook the rice on medium heat for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low for about 20 minutes. Lift the lid to check on the doneness of the potatoes and make sure they are not burning. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or as needed. The dish is done with the potatoes are cooked through and crispy, and the rice at the top is also cooked through.
  • Take the pan off the heat and remove the lid. Allow to cool briefly, then cover the pan with a large plate or serving platter, and carefully invert to serve. Do not do this over your stove! You should flip the dish out of the pan and onto the plate on your counter top.
  • If using, drain barberries, and combine the remaining 1 tbsp of saffron water. Garnish with the saffron barberry mixture. Serve immediately. This dish has the best texture when fresh. Leftover potatoes will become soggy, however the leftover rice is still good the next day.

  • Please note that the nutritional information for this recipe is only an estimate, and has been calculated using a plugin. I used a 10 inch (26cm) 4.25oz non-stick saute pan with a lid for this recipe. The one I have linked in this recipe will also work (11 inches, 4.6 oz). See blog post for detailed tips and explanations.

377 calories· 66 g carbohydrates· 6 g protein· 8 g fat· 3 g saturated fat· 15 mg cholesterol· 1225 mg sodium· 421 mg potassium· 2 g fiber· 175 IU vitamin A· 9.7 mg vitamin C· 44 mg calcium· 3.2 mg iron·