Tah-Chin - Persian Upside Down Layered Saffron Rice & Chicken

Tah-Chin - Persian Upside Down Layered Saffron Rice & Chicken

This is a divine dish of layered saffron rice and cooked chicken breasts bound together by seasoned yogurt and egg yolk mixture. We Iranians love our rice and love to layer it with different types of vegetables and meat. However, the most tasty and desired part of this dish is the bottom layer of the rice (tah-dig). Tah-chin is the tah-dig lovers galore! Since the rice is served upside down and cuts like a cake, you can have your rice cake with a thick tah-dig and eat it too! "Tah" is a Persian/Farsi word for bottom and "chin" is the root word for "chidan" which means putting things in order, arranging and in this case, layering.


Serves 4-6

2 1/2 cups long grain basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in water with 2 tablespoons of salt for a couple of hours. Drain. 
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 eggs, yolks only
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
1 large onion, peeled, and thinly sliced
A pinch of turmeric  
Salt to taste
Butter or vegetable oil
Chicken stock  *optional

Garnish: barberries, slivered almonds or pistachios *optional


  1. Place the raw chicken breasts in a pot along with onion, add turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a cup of water, bring to boil on medium-high heat, reduce heat, cover and cook for an hour on medium-low heat. Set aside to cool. Cut the chicken into small pieces.
  2. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot on medium-high heat, add the rice and boil for about 8-10 minutes or until rice grains are soft on the ends and firm in the center. Drain and pour some cool water over it to wash away the starch and to separate the rice grains. This cool water rinse helps bring about a more fluffy rice. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine yogurt, yolks, salt and saffron. Mix well.
  4. Add the rice to the yogurt mixture, blend well.
  5. In a nonstick pan, add 3 tablespoons oil and a tablespoon of liquid saffron. Move the pan in a circular motion to cover the bottom uniformly. Ladle 2/3 of the rice into the pan, flatten with a wooden spoon, layer chicken pieces evenly and cover the entire surface. Pour the rest of the rice over the chicken pieces, flatten the top with the back of a large spoon while pressing down. Pour 2-3 tablespoons strained chicken stock, 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter and the remaining liquid saffron over the rice. 
  6. Place the pot on medium-high heat. When you notice a steam coming up, lower the heat, cover and cook for one hour until the crust forms and the flavors come together. Since there's yogurt and egg yolk at the bottom of the pan it can easily burn, so adjustthe heat setting of your stove accordingly.

To serve this dish let it cool for a few minutes, this way the crust comes off easier. Place a round serving platter that is larger than the diameter of the pot. Hold firmly while wearing mittens, you don't want to burn your fingers! Then gently turn the pot over. Garnish as you like.

Tah-chin goes well with plain yogurt, yogurt and cucumber dipsalad Shirazi, or torshi.


MA Saffron