Tahchin is a Persian baked rice dish layered with buttery soft chicken and a gorgreous golden covering of saffron infused, spice scented rice. The long bake in the oven produces beautifully steamed fluffy rice with a crispy casing (Tahdig) that you will be fighting over.
Don’t be put off by the multiple steps. It is a really simple dish to create and the result is truly worth it.
FOR THE CHICKEN:
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 ½ cups cold water
FOR THE RICE:
1 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice (I substituted ½ cup with Jasmine rice for added aroma)
3 TBSP plain low-fat yoghurt
1 large egg
Small pinch of saffron strands infused in a little hot water
1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp Persian Rice Spice (see recipe below)
To cook the chicken: Add the skinless chicken pieces to a stockpot with a good lid that will not allow too much moisture loss. Add salt, pepper, the cut onion and 1 ½ cups water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken falls apart with a fork.
Remove the chicken from the stockpot and set aside to cool.
If there is more than 1 cup of broth in the stockpot, bring it to a boil and let it boil for 3-5 minutes, or until it is reduced to 1 cup. Turn off the heat, smash the cooked onions with a fork, pour the reduced broth into a medium bowl and set aside.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into large chunks. Mix the meat with broth until it is well coated. Chill the meat and broth mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30-40 minutes, or until the broth solidifies. This step may be done up to 3-4 hours in advance.
To make the rice: A lot of recipes require you to wash the rice several times but I just place it straight into boiling salted water, stir to separate the grains and par-cook for about 5-7 minutes. Check one of the grains; it should be soft around the edges while still firm (not crunchy) in the centre. Drain and set aside.
To make the Tahchin: Preheat oven to 200C.
In a medium bowl whisk together 1 egg, yoghurt, 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice and the saffron. Stir in ½ of the par cooked rice and mix until all the rice is coated. Set aside
Add the oil and butter to a medium glass baking dish. Place the dish in the preheated oven 3-5 minutes, or until all the butter melts and starts sizzling. Watch very closely so the oil does not get too hot and smoky then transfer the baking dish to a heat proof surface. Swirl the butter all around the base and sides of the dish.
First layer:Add the rice and yoghurt mixture to the baking dish and spread evenly to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the rice layer with 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice.
Second layer:Stir the chilled chicken and broth well and arrange evenly on top to cover all of the rice layer.
Final layer:Add the rest of the rice on top of the chicken, press gently with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice.
Cover the baking dish with a sheet of heavy duty aluminium foil and seal the sides by pressing the aluminium foil to the dish. Use a sharp knife to cut one slit on each corner and then a few in the centre of the dish.
Bake on the lowest rack of the preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the lowest portion of the sides of Tahchin are golden brown. Do not overbake; the bottom will bake darker than the sides. If the lower sides are not golden brown, return the Tahchin back to the oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
Remove the baking dish from the oven, remove the aluminium foil. Run a knife along the sides of the baking dish to release the Tahchin. Place a large shallow baking sheet on top of the dish. Use oven gloves and hold both baking sheet and the glass dish and invert the Tahchin. Let the Tahchin sit on the counter for 10 minutes.
Use a serrated knife to cut the Tahchin into 4 equal pieces and serve with Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs), Torshi Sir (pickled garlic), cooling yoghurt and/or Salad Shirazi.
The Persian rice spiceis a blend of 5 spices with the main ingredient being the dried rose petal powder. You may find dried rose petals “gole sorkh” in most Middle Eastern supermarkets. It is the dried blossoms of a special species of wild rose that grows in Iran and is used for culinary purpose. However if you have a hard time finding it, no worries, the spice blend still tastes wonderful without this ingredient. I have cooked rice with a spice blend combining cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and cardamom and it turns out really delicious and fragrant.
4 TBSP ground cinnamon
2 TBSP cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cardamom seeds
6 TBSP powdered rose petals (optional) (I didn’t include these)
Toast the cumin and cardamom seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Blend in a pestle and mortar until well ground. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and rose petals if using. Mix all the spices well. Place in a small airtight jar.
I recently went to a Japanese restaurant in London with my best mate and haven’t been able to stop eating Japanese food since. This is a recipe for a Japanese crispy fried chicken with a sauce made from a curry roux. This is an incredibly easy dish and an incredibly satisfying one with silky sauce to accompany crispy, juicy chicken.
The recipe serves 3 as I was raving about it so much that a couple of mates wanted in on the action too but the quantities are easily adjustable.
3 Chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
50g Plain Flour
100g Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
3 chunks of curry roux (I used S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix)
Sunflower Oil for frying
Salt & Pepper
Cooked Jasmine Rice and chopped chives to serve
Butterfly the chicken breasts, cover with a sheet of cling film and flatten them out using a rolling pin until they’re about 1cm thick. Season both sides of each breast with salt then coat all over in the flour.
Beat the egg in a shallow dish and tip the breadcrumbs into another. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg then coat in breadcrumbs. Leave to one side whilst you make a start on the Katsu Curry sauce.
Add a tsp sunflower oil to a small pan and sweat the chopped onion until cooked through.
When the onions are cooked, add in the curry roux and a little bit of the hot water. Stir to dissolve the roux then gradually add the rest of the water and cook over a medium heat until the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. (Just short of enough to coat the base). Be a little patient with this, if you put your chicken in and the oil isn’t hot enough, the panko crumbs will likely go soggy.
Carefully add the prepared chicken into the pan and fry for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan onto a plate lined with some paper towels.
Now all your components are ready, it’s time to serve. Plate up some cooked rice, slice up the chicken and place on top. Then pour over as much of the katsu curry sauce as you like! You could even sprinkle over some chopped chives.
Normally, I’d be dead set against ready grated cheese but it tastes incredible in this recipe and delivers a super savoury umami hit along with the crunch of the panko and the succulence of the chicken for a super tasty meal.
2 chicken breasts
50g plain flour
75g panko breadcrumbs
75g ready-grated parmesan
½ tsp each smoked paprika, dried rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
a knob of butter
Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them open to spread them out without cutting all the way through. Cover with some cling film and gently bash them with a rolling pin to tenderise and flatten each breast. You should be left with two large ‘sheets’ of thin chicken about 1cm in width.
Take 3 shallow bowls. Place the flour in one and season. Place the beaten egg in the second. Place the panko, parmesan, smoked paprika and rosemary in the third bowl. Season the breadcrumb mix well.
Take each chicken breast and coat with the flour, then the egg and finally the cheesy panko. Press the panko mix gently so it sticks well to the eggy chicken.
In a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the chicken breasts and fry for a few minutes until the bottom is crisp and golden and you just start to see the sides of the chicken turning white.
Turn the chicken over to make the other side crispy and golden and ensure the chicken is cooked through. By now, the kitchen should smell of amazing cheesy goodness.
Remove from the pan and slice up each piece to serve. I have served mine with rosemary roast potatoes and a rocket salad.
Taking the time to make your own enchilada sauce is so so worth it in this dish. If you’re going to the effort, why not double or triple it so you have some to refrigerate or freeze for another amazing mealtime? I don’t think authentic enchilada sauce actually has any tomato in it. It gets it’s beautiful redness from the amount of chilli powder so make sure you use the mild variety even if you like your spice. The sauce is unadulterated by refined sugars and additives that you’ll find in leading brand jars and instead, tastes fresh, vibrant and incredible smothered on top of chicken, beany, cheesy goodness. Try it, try it, try it!
Red Enchilada Sauce
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. plain flour
1 Tbsp. mild chilli powder
Freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, grated
2 cups chicken stock
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients bar the stock. Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened to your liking.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
Chicken & Bean Enchiladas
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
salt and pepper
Jalapeno chilli slices, drained
1 can black beans or mixed bean salad (your preference)
6 small flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated
1 batch red enchilada sauce (see recipe)
chopped fresh coriander, to garnish
As easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7!
Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare your enchilada sauce, if making homemade.
In large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook the butterflied chicken through, turning once, for 8-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Shred into chunky strips then set aside.
Add onion to the same pan and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shredded chicken back to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl with the drained bean salad. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the enchilada sauce to the bowl and stir everything well to combine.
To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, bean and chicken mixture and cheese.
Microwave the tortillas for a few seconds so they become maliable and don’t crack when you come to rolling them up.
Lay out the tortillas and spread two tablespoons of sauce over the surface of each. Divide the bean and chicken mix between the wraps and spoon in a line down the middle of each tortilla. Roll up each tortilla and place in a lightly greased baking dish. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas and sprinkle on the grated cheddar cheese so there is a nice generous layer. Add pickled jalapenos with the cheese for an extra tasty kick.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh coriander if desired.
This dish is great served with guacamole and salsa!
A real hearty meal that uses one pan and tastes fantastic. I love cooking dinner in my casserole pan in the oven. All the flavours seem to concentrate and everything cooks evenly into a luxurious dish. This is no exception and incorporates smoky paprika with a sweet tomato and pepper sauce that coats tender chicken pieces.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 Tbsp plain flour
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
400g can plum tomatoes
150ml chicken stock
1 red or green pepper, deseeded and sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Sour cream (optional)
Brown rice and steamed greens to serve
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Cut each chicken breast into 3 or pieces. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish over a medium heat. Brown the chicken pieces, seasoning in the process, then remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan and gently fry for 8-10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic for a further minute before adding the flour, paprika and cayenne. Stir well to soak up the pan juices then add the can of plum tomatoes. Stir to combine then add the stock and return the chicken to the pan. Stir everything and bring to a simmer. Add the peppers to the casserole then place the lid on and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through.
Check the seasoning and add the parsley about 5 minutes before it is ready. Serve with brown rice and steamed greens such as broccoli, beans or asparagus for a wholesome, tasty meal.
If using, add the sour cream to the casserole once you have removed it from the oven and swirl it through the sauce. I didn’t use it in the dish pictured as I didn’t have any but I have tried it in the recipe before and it adds a lovely richness.
These delicious joints of chicken are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. They are my idea of perfect sharing food, especially if men and TV are involved. The flavours are clean and simple and the cooking process is easy. I like to serve these fresh from the oven but they are also amazing cold the next day. The green chilli is hot but it is the flavour that is really important here, so scrape out the seeds and cut off the membranes, if you wish, to minimise the heat. You can leave the chilli out altogether if you want and you will still have a fantastic subtly spiced and crispy, succulent treat.
800g chicken joints, skinned and pricked all over
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
4 slices white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
10g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
25g garlic, peeled
24 green chillies, seeds and membranes removed, if wanted
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Blend all the marinade ingredients into a paste and place in a non-metallic bowl. Add the chicken and coat well in the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 225°C. Pour the oil into a foil lined roasting tin large enough to accommodate the chicken in one open layer. Place the pan on a high shelf in the oven to heat up for 15 minutes.
Mix the salt, black pepper and cumin powder into the breadcrumbs. Take the chicken out of the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the spicy crumbs, ensuring an even coating on all sides. Dip into the egg and add a second coating of crumbs.
Place the chicken in the oiled roasting tin and cook for 20 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 200°C, turn the chicken over and cook for another 15–25 minutes (depending on the size of the joints) or until cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges and salad.
An extremely tasty, flavourful dish that is just as good cold as it is warm. If you like peanuts, this one is for you. The fresh ingredients deliver vibrant, aromatic depth which tastes great with the creamy nuttiness of peanuts and coconut. I have left the seeds of the chilli in and used medium curry powder for a little punch but feel free to remove them if you want it mild.
No oil is needed for frying. The vegetables are lightly blanched with the noodles and the chicken is grilled on skewers.
This recipe makes enough to serve 2 as a dinner but you could double the amount of chicken and the noodle ingredients as there is enough satay sauce to serve 4. I have suggested freezing half the satay for another time but why not double up and have extra for a proper tasty next day lunch?
For the satay:
small piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
zest and juice 1 lime
1 tsp clear honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp medium curry powder
1 red chilli, chopped
3 Tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
40g creamed coconut, chopped finely
For the noodles:
1 ½ – 2 bunches dried rice noodles
2 spring onions, sliced
½ carrot, cut into matchsticks
Small handful mange tout
Fresh coriander and lime wedges, to serve
Add the ginger, garlic, lime zest and juice into a bowl. Add the honey, soy, curry powder, chilli, creamed coconut and peanut butter. Give it a good mix, adding a small splash of water if it’s too stiff. (At this point, half the mix and freeze one half for another time). Spoon two-thirds of the remaining mix into a small pan. Set aside for Step 3.
Cut the chicken into strips, tip it into the remaining third of the peanut-butter mix then stir well. Cover with cling film and chill until required.
While the chicken is marinating, heat the satay sauce mix. The sauce needs to be heated gently and stirred. Add a little water to loosen if needed.
Thread the chicken into ‘S’ shapes onto the skewers.
Heat the grill to high and line a baking tray with foil. Line up the skewers on the tray. Grill the skewers for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred. Remove from the skewers and set aside.
While the chicken is grilling, break the rice noodles up into a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
When the noodles are nearly cooked, add the carrots and mange tout to the bowl. Leave for 1 minute to warm through and soften slightly then drain and add back to the bowl along with the spring onions and coriander.
Add the satay sauce to the noodles and mix thoroughly with two forks. Serve onto plates and top with the marinated, grilled chicken.