Tah dig. A magical word. A food for gods. I learned how to prepare the rice dish Tah Dig by asking Iranian friends countless culinary questions – and from the recipe on my favorite Persian blog, Turmeric and Safron. Tah Dig: Persian preparation of rice that sings the praises of the seemingly simple, white grain. The dish uses long grain, white rice – preferably purchased in a big, brown burlap sack from my preferred Middle Eastern store in Albuquerque, Cafe Istanbul. The store is owned by a kind Palestinian family. The mothers and daughters are always willing to answer any queries about all food and preparation Middle Eastern. Last night, I prepared savory Tah Dig – along with Persian-style marinated kebob that showcase the many beloved spices of the region. A medium bodied, smooth red wine paired well – in this case, a Bordeaux. A light, well-spiced eggplant and tomato salad was served before the meal when the challah was cut. Lest we forget the buttery, eggy challah – It is Shabbat, after all! The meal was finished with dark chocolate (as most meals are!) – a delicious bar given to me by my husband. A gift of wine or chocolate never fails to please the proprietor of Casa Curls and Carrots! Shabbat is the Jewish sabbath and begins at sundown on Friday night. It is a night separate from, and elevated above, all other nights. Dinner is no exception. Persian cuisine is quite appropriate for this Jewish meal – Hebrews settled the world over during diaspora, and the Middle East is no exception. Most Jews who settled in the Middle East were expelled from Spain in 1492; they are called Sephardim. Many settled in Turkey, thanks to the kind King of the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). European Jews are referred to as Ashkenazi and are more common in the United States. Like Ashkenazi fare, Sephardic dishes reflects the region of settlement. It marries the rich flavors of the Middle East (Rice! Apricots! Turmeric! Saffron!) with traditional Jewish foods passed down for generations. Challah and wine are two uniting foods of Shabbat for most Jewish people – not at all unwelcome!
When I first graduated from university at the age of 21, I worked in a small store as a shop girl. There was a severe economic recession and jobs were scarce – one took any job that was available, regardless of pay or prestige. The owner of the shop was a kind and generous man with a stoic, hard-working wife and many children. My boss was a Persian Jew – he spoke English, Persian and Hebrew. His family prepared the dulcet foods of their home, Iran. The family was the first Iranian Jews that I had met. The shop owner gave me a job when I desperately needed one, though he probably didn’t need additional help at the time. I think of this sweet family – and the warmth they showed me – when I make Tah Dig for Shabbat dinner. Initially, I prepared Tah Dig on the stove top. These days, I usually prepare Tah Dig using a Persian Rice cooker. It is a no-fail, quick method! Following the instructions of the shop owner at Cafe Istanbul, I use chicken stock, butter, salt, saffron and just a touch of turmeric. In medieval Europe, turmeric was referred to as as Indian saffron. It was commonly used as an alternative to the expensive, precious saffron spice.
This rice cooks by steaming, so little liquid is required – about a 1:1 ratio of rice to chicken stock. A normal preparation of rice calls for a 1:2 rice to liquid ratio. Once a basic knowledge of Tah Dig is acquired, your recipe can evolve to include dried fruits, such as apricots, and even lightly steamed lentils, added in the last few minutes of cooking. The recipe below is a Tah Dig to be prepared at a moments notice. Despite the quick preparation, the flavor and texture remain exquisite. _________________________________________________________________________
Easy Shabbat Tah Dig
Crunchy on the outside, soft and succulent on the inside: this rice dish sings saffron and turmeric’s praises.
1 1/2 cups long grain, white rice
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. low-sodium chicken stock
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
a few pinches of fine salt
a small pinch of turmeric
a few pinches of saffron – crumble the red strands between two fingers
- Soak rice in a bowl of water for at least an hour. Rinse and drain.
- Place rice, stock, butter, salt, saffron and turmeric in a Persian, non-stick rice cooker (I use the basic Pars model).
- Mix the ingredients well with a wooden spoon.
- Cover rice cooker with towel. Cook in rice cooker for 45 minutes.
- Turn off rice cooker. Allow (covered) rice to stand for at least 15 minutes, or until ready to serve.
- Invert rice onto a large plate. Eat and Enjoy! Shabbat Shalom.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.
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40 thoughts on “Tah Dig: More Rice, Please.”
Where to find Persian rice cooker? Is it like a regular rice cooker? ‘Cos I seriously am in love with Persian rice, best rice in the world! And haven’t had mastered the art of cooking it, I need the cooker! 🙂
I am so glad that you stopped by – and happy to hear that you love Persian rice as much as I do. I bought my rice cooker at a small Middle Eastern grocery market. They are also available online – even amazon.com sells Persian rice cookers. They are not expensive, and a basic model will do just fine. The rice cooker is non-stick and browns the rice – so you can only use it for white, long grain rice. I have this version: http://www.kalamala.com/products/pars-rice-cooker?gclid=CITNyOGho7oCFaUWMgod3jgAMQ
Happy rice cooking!
I loooove persian rice, the crunchy bottom, the warm spices – agh, I’m making my mouth water. Also, very informative about Shabbat! I never knew that Hebrews from different areas were called different things.
I am so pleased that you stopped by – and took the time to read the blog post and recipe. Thank you! 🙂 Yes, it is AMAZING how many types of Judaism exist – and how many different countries we have settled in. There are even long-standing groups of Hebrews in Ethiopia and Asia!
i love everything you make…but i can never make any of it because i would be the only one eating it!! =(
Thank you, Julie, for your lovely compliment and for visiting Curls and Carrots. Many of the recipes can be halved or frozen – or shared with hungry nurses and residents (hint, hint!) during your shifts. Maybe you can cook with a good friend and split the proceeds – that is always fun. I love your blog – happy birthday to the smart, sweet and stunning Payton Pie!
Thank you so much for sharing this tah dig dish. It reminds me of the time when my close friend’s mum who is Persian made it for us for dinner! I loved the crispiness! And now I will definitely make it! 🙂
There is NOTHING like crispy rice with the redolence of butter, saffron and turmeric. I hope that you try it… It is such a comforting food. Tell me about the foods your friend’s mum made you (or post a recipe soon)! I adore all foods Persian and am always experimenting in the kitchen.
Yum! I love Middle Eastern food but have never prepared any myself. I typically don’t like eating plain white rice, but I love Persian rice–so much texture and flavor! I will have to look into this Persian rice cooker! I wonder how different it is from an Asian rice cooker?
Persian rice is so yummy – I agree! A Persian rice cooker creates a crispy bottom. It also cooks using steam. And it only works with white, long-grain rice. I love my Persian rice cooker! Asian rice cookers are much more versatile and designed for sushi and short-grain rice, but can also cook long-grain rice and brown rice. You can even steam vegetables and make bibimbap in an Asian rice cooker (according to the NY times!). I hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by and for the nice comments!
Thanks for the info! We have to buy a new rice cooker, so I will have to do some researching before deciding on what to buy!
I love buying new kitchen stuff! So many great choices! 🙂
I love it: world peace in the kitchen, a Jew cooking an Iranian dish. I already noticed of course the similarities between Middle Eastern cuisines, but with all the hostility in the Middle East it’s nice to see you get along in the US 🙂
I don’t know much about Middle Eastern cooking, so it will be nice to learn from your blog. How does the stovetop preparation work? I don’t own a rice cooker, let alone a Persian one.
World Peace in The Kitchen. I think that we might be onto something here! A future cooking non-profit organization? 🙂
I love Middle Eastern foods – and definitely Sephardic dishes. You are right, they are similar. Like you, I adore foods from SO many regions. I love to learn more about cultural cuisines, especially from friends!
The only rice cooker I own is the Persian one – it is so convenient. And, it makes a crispy bottom on anything – I have even used it for lentils! MMM. In the first paragraph of the blog post, there is a link to making Tah Dig on the stovetop. It is from a great Persian food blog, Saffron and Turmeric. Iranian rice is not too hard to prepare and a fun process.
Happy cooking! Thank you so much for your warm comments and for visiting Curls and Carrots!
Oh I love Iranian food. I had the opportunity to be in Iran a few years ago for a few years, the food was wonderful! And I walways wondered how this rie was made, so thanks for posting… only i don’t have a Persian rice cooker! xx
Hi, Sofia! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a nice note. If you click on the link in the first paragraph, you will be connected to the Turmeric and Saffron blog – and instructions to make Tah Dig on the stovetop. Wow – visiting Iran – what an amazing experience that must have been. You probably know a lot about Iranian food now!
That looks so fantastic , Shanna. I particularly liked the Sephardic lesson. I am really into Sephardic food. Have you ever read, Tastes of Aleppo? Wonderful book. Sadly, it’s in storage right now.
Thank you, Chef Janet! I appreciate the kind words and that you stopped by to check out the Tah Dig. 🙂 The book sounds great – is it about Syrian cuisine? I will check it out. I am sorry to hear yours is in storage… and sad to hear that it can’t be enjoyed. I love cookbooks (and all books, really!)
I was introduced to Tah Dig years ago. Around the corner from my apartment was a Persian restaurant. I had gone back to college then and one Sunday, while studying, I decided to stop there for lunch. Once I was seated and placed my order, I opened a text book and started reading. The owner, a very kind man, stopped by and asked what I was reading. When I explained it was a text book, he immediately called a waiter to move me to a table with better light. That was the day I discovered Tah Dig. Needless to say, he won me over and I went back frequently. He always looked to see if I had a textbook. A few years later I moved out of that neighborhood and it wasn’t long after the family closed the restaurant. I’d not thought of him in some time. Thank you for sharing your recipe, Shanna, and for the trip down Memory Lane. Now to check out that blog. Not having a rice cooker, I want to learn how to make Tah Dig on my stove top. 🙂
Lovely story, John. What a wonderful story of your discovery of Tah Dig! It’s so amazing how a certain food can bring back a flood of memories. Thank you for sharing! 🙂 I am so moved by the simple act of giving you better light to study – it shows a high value for education – and support for those with academic pursuits.
Oh, that does look delicious! I love rice. It looks perfect to me… crunchy on the outside and beautiful tender on the inside. And that gorgeous colour of saffron and turmeric. Beautiful Shanna!
Thank you for your nice worlds – and taking the time to write a comment. I am so glad that you visited! Hopefully there is some Iranian rice in your future… 🙂
Hi Shanna, Yum! I must buy a Persian rice cooker. That looks so delicious. I love rice and the many different ways to prepare it. Fried rice, Mexican rice, plain short grain rice, and now, Tah Dig! Thanks for posting the recipe.
Hi, Kiyo. So great to hear from you. Persian rice cookers are not expensive – and ours gets a lot of use. Plus, dinner guests seem to adore crunchy, Iranian rice – and are impressed by the presentation. Still, if you don’t have space in your kitchen for the rice cooker, there is a link in the first paragraph of the blog for making your own Iranian rice at on the stovetop. I have used this preparation before – a little time, a little patience and a little care is required, but it is doable! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your kind comment.
I just got home from work and there on the doorstep was my Pars rice cooker! I’m not sure if I have the same model as you have. The directions that came with the rice cooker are a bit off. It mentions bringing the water and oil to a boil in the pan before adding the rice. Can this be right? It also says to start the timer after the red light turns to yellow. Now I’m confused! Anyhow I will give it a try soon. Can’t wait to invert that lovely golden rice on a plate and eat it!
How exciting! Fun to come!
So, my instructions came in ARABIC. Hahaha. I eventually got them in English, yet they still made zero sense. So, I questioned my Persian friends about what the heck to do. 😉 I also referred extensively to the internet.
I have never waited for the water to boil – I just put in all the ingredients, stir, close, cover with a towel and turn on the timer. Haha. It may be lazy, but it always works for me.
It sounds like your rice cooker needs to pre-heat… that should only take a few minutes. Check out these instructions. They really helped me when I first got mine:
Also, if you have time, making a saffron brew for the Tah Dig is quite nice:
Let me know if this helps. I would just experiment. The most important thing is to not add too much water – it’s closer to a 1:1 ratio than the normal 1:2- and to avoid opening the lid. Also, rinse the rice well before cooking and remember to cover with a towel. The rice cooks by steam.
Happy cooking, Kiyo!
One of my favorites, that took me a long, long time to perfect.(http://thecoastalcountertop.com/2012/10/09/crispy-saffron-rice/). Ever since I bought my Pars rice cooker and threw out my older, cheaper one, it’s getting better and better each time, but never quite as good as I remember from my childhood! 🙂
-Amy, The Coastal Countertop
Hi, Amy. I love your recipe. I usually make a saffron brew with water – how ingenious that you used butter. Thank you for sharing your expertise. Your blog is lovely!
That rice looks absolutely delicious. I can even taste it on screen…yum. I love rice!!!
Thanks, Liz. I appreciate that you stopped by and left kind words, too. Have a great night, fellow rice lover. 🙂
Shanna, thank you very much for your recipe and tips. Just to confirm, cover the pot with a towel then place the rice cooker lid on?!!! I’m trying your recipe this weekend. What do you suggest I serve along with the rice? Thanks again!
Hi, Kiyo! 🙂
Of course, it is my pleasure to talk about all things food. 😉
Put the lid on the rice cooker. Cover the rice cooker with a kitchen towel after the lid is on. Then turn on the rice cooker. Don’t put the towel on before the lid, but after.
The towel keeps the steam in and yields a great result. The rice cooks by steam, which is why the rice to water ratio is so low.
I love to serve Tah Dig with a nice khoresht lubia sabz (YUM!):
or any fish, chicken, beef or lamb Persian kebob, such as:
The Sadaf Persian seasonings are awesome – and come in varieties for fish, meat and chicken kebob. Delicious.
Happy Cooking! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions over the weekend while cooking. I check email quite often.
Also, I love mypersiankitchen.com for information about Persian Cuisine, as well as turmericandsaffron.com.
Have a lovely day and a fun Halloween!
Thank you very much for taking the time to explain in detail the cooking process for Tah Dig using my new rice cooker. Also thanks for the links to recipes that will go well with the rice. I can’t wait until the weekend is here and I have time to try them out. Yum!
Of course, Kiyo. It is my pleasure. I am so excited that you have a Persian rice cooker, as well. You are going to have TONS of fun with it. It never fails to impress guests, either, with delicious and stunning rice. I thought of another Khoresht that I adore (the recipe should call for 2 cans, 14-ounce crushed tomato):
I can’t wait to read about your adventures in Iran… from Hawaii. 😉 Aloha!
I had no idea there was a special Persian rice cooker. If I had one, I’d want the crunchy rice every day!
Oh, Michelle, it is a blessing – and a curse! Lovely for my palate, awful for my waistline. Haha! 🙂 Crunchy rice for breakfast, anyone? 😉 Thanks for stopping by and leaving a fun note.
Good morning Shanna, I followed your recipe this weekend using my Pars rice cooker. The rice turned out perfect! I’m in love with this beautiful rice, golden in color from the pinch of saffron and turmeric. Thanks for the super simple and tasty recipe. PS: My cupboards are full of dishes and appliances but I found a spot for the rice cooker!!!