Tahdig Topped with Cherry and Pomegranate Salad

Tahdig Topped with Cherry and Pomegranate Salad

Renée Robinson

An Irresistible Combination.

One of my all time favorite foods to eat is tahdig – rice cooked until a very crispy crust forms and it is then flipped out of the pan, which displays that beautiful crispy rice layer on top. I’ve been making Samin Nosrat’s recipe (Persian-Ish Rice) for years and have always been happy with the results. This time around I didn’t begin by deciding to make it. Instead I had an abundance of sweet Bing cherries and knew I wanted to make some sort of salad, using them as the main ingredient. As I kept thinking about which way to go with the salad, I mulled over combining them with cold rice, etc. And that’s when tahdig popped into my mind.

It all came together after that. I just knew that a salad with cherries, pomegranate arils, scallions, plenty of tart citrus juice and pomegranate molasses would perfectly complement the rice. There is no cultural authenticity to this recipe. It’s simply what I thought would taste good. 

Cherry Salad

I changed up the original tahdig recipe by adding a few elements. Whereas a cup of the semi-cooked rice is normally mixed with a little yogurt and spread into the bottom of a skillet, I used heated heavy cream in which I steeped some saffron threads. I thought the saffron flavor would be particularly good with the cherry salad. I also added sliced scallions to the rice when it was cooked in the skillet. 

I want to bring particular attention to one element of the rice recipe.  2 cups of basmati rice are initially cooked in 4 quarts of water to which a half cup of kosher salt has been added. Don’t let this amount of salt throw you. As Samin explains, this is your only shot at getting your rice seasoned. It only cooks for a few minutes to the al dente stage, so there is no chance of it being over salted. Don’t be afraid to add that amount of salt. 

Tahdig Rice Cooking

Here is the rice when it is first put into the skillet.

There are a couple of other things I think add to the success of the tahdig. You need to use a 10 inch skillet. Mine is ceramic coated and I’ve never had it stick. Before turning it out, drain off any residual oil. You won’t know it’s there until you tip the skillet. It’s important to drain it because you could end up with either a mess on your hands or you could burn yourself with the hot oil. At that point, take a deep breath and hope for the best as you flip it out of the skillet. As Samin says, if yours should stick, simply remove it in pieces, place it on a platter and do what Persian grannies have been doing forever, which is to pretend this is how you intended to serve it all along. No matter what, it will still be absolutely delicious. 

What did I think of the end result of the cherry/tahdig combination? I was over the moon with how delicious it is. Seriously. I’m not overstating or exaggerating how much I love this. This is my kind of food and I hope it’s yours, too.

Tahdig Topped with Cherry and Pomegranate Salad

Recipe by Renée Robinson
Servings

4 - 6

servings

Crispy Rice Topped with a Vibrant Cherry and Pomegranate Salad

Cook Mode

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Ingredients

  • Cherry and Pomegranate Salad Ingredients
  • 1 pound 1 fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved

  • 3 3 scallions, sliced thinly, (from the rice), but use the green parts for the salad

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 pomegranate arils

  • 2 tablespoons 2 toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon 1 pomegranate molasses

  • 1 tablespoon 1 calamansi juice, or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon 1 honey

  • 2 tablespoons 2 extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 fine sea salt

  • Few Few grinds of black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons 2 chopped flat leaf parsley

  • Tahdig Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons 3 heavy cream

  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

  • 2 cups 2 basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs almost clear

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 Morton’s kosher salt

  • 3 3 scallions, sliced thinly, use only the white parts for the rice

  • 3 tablespoons 3 salted butter

  • 3 tablespoons 3 neutral vegetable oil

Directions

  • Directions for Cherry and Pomegranate Salad
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together pomegranate molasses, calamansi or lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the cherries, scallion greens, pomegranate arils, and pistachios. Taste for seasoning. I needed to add a little extra salt. Set aside.
  • Directions for Tahdig
  • In a small bowl stir the saffron into the heavy cream. Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and set aside.
  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1/2 cup kosher salt. Add the rice and stir. Cook stirring occasionally until the rice is al dente. It took 7 minutes for mine.
  • Immediately put the rice in a fine meshed sieve and run cold water over it to stop the cooking. Drain.
  • Remove 1 cup of the rice and mix it with the saffron infused cream. Mix the white parts of the scallions into the remaining rice.
  • Add the butter and oil to a 10 inch non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the saffron rice to the skillet, spreading it out evenly. Add the remaining rice to the skillet, mounding it slightly in the center. Using the end of a wooden spoon, gently poke 5 or 6 holes into the rice, going all the way to the bottom of the pan. This will enable steam to escape as the rice cooks and helps to ensure a crisp bottom crust.
  • Cook for 20 minutes, turning the skillet a quarter turn every 4 minutes or so. This will ensure the bottom cooks evenly. As the rice cooks, you should see small bubbles of the oil/butter on the edges of the rice. If you don’t see this, add a little more oil to the edges of the rice. At the end of 20 minutes, you should see a golden color and crust beginning to form on the very edges.
  • Once you see the color on the edges, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook and rotate the pan for another 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and drain off excess oil into a bowl. Place a platter over the skillet and flip out the tahdig. Mound the cherry salad on top, scatter with parsley and serve. Enjoy!

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