Everything You Need For The Perfect Tahdig, According To A Persian Chef

Persian chef Nasim Alikhani suggests pans, ingredients and more for this delicious crisped-rice dish.
Martin Steinthaler via Getty Images

Tahdig is one of those special foods that’s not only outrageously tasty but also evokes warmth and care in every bite. Translating to “bottom of the pot” in Farsi, tahdig is a popular Persian dish of golden crispy rice that requires you to flip your pot over so you can enjoy the browned rice at the bottom of the pan. (Check out an excellent tahdig recipe here.)

We spoke with chef Nasim Alikhani, the James Beard Award nominee behind Brooklyn’s renowned Persian restaurant Sofreh, about her tips and tricks for pulling off the perfect tahdig.

Tahdig is flipped onto a platter.
Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Tahdig is flipped onto a platter.

While flipping your tahdig over may feel intimidating, try not to worry: Practicing and failing is part of the process. “I’ve flipped thousands of tahdigs in my life and not all were good,” Alikhani said. “Try to see it as a learning curve and a process, and don’t get discouraged if the outcome is [initially] not what you want. The process is more interesting than the final outcome.”

They’re wise words for tahdig and for life. Read on for more of Alikhani’s advice.

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A nonstick 6-quart pot with wide base
Alikhani recommended any wide, nonstick pot for making tahdig, preferably with a tight-fitting lid for easier flipping. We think this Misen nonstick pot is an excellent option. Its wide diameter will help your rice get adequately crispy at the bottom, and its two handles will help give you leverage to flip your dish. Misen claims the handles will stay cool during stove-top cooking.

Promising review: "This pan is wonderful. It is so versatile to use for many different types of dishes and cooking styles. It is also extremely easy to clean making even the messiest dishes a snap to clean up." — ANN G.
A nonstick ceramic pot
Alikhani suggests starting out with an affordable pot. If you're looking for one with a more stout shape, we like this this budget-friendly nonstick pot that we found on Amazon. Its size will help prevent your tahdig from breaking when you flip it, and it promises to heat up fast and clean up easy thanks to the diamond-infused ceramic material. Plus, it's dishwasher-safe and free of PFAS, PFOA, lead and cadmium.

This version is 2 quarts, making it a great option for cooking tahdig at home. It also comes in a 1 quart and 2 quart set if you're looking for more versatility, or a 5 quart jumbo pan if you're cooking for more people.

Promising review: "We love rice. In the remote past, I owned a rice cooker that turned out perfect rice every time. When I had to replace it I couldn't find that stellar performance anywhere. I began cooking small batches in a saucepan but the varying times and sticking to the pan put me off that, too. I decreased my rice cooking frequency. I recently discarded some old glass saucepans and swore I'd find a good, safe nonstick one. The reviews for this Blue Diamond were great and the price was right. My first use was a small batch of rice. It was perfect! No sticking, no need to soak the pan, no leaking of fluid from a poorly fitted lid. I've used the pan for veggies and sauces and ramen and even fried an egg in it once." — Dr. Essie W. Bruel
Our Place
A ceramic flipping platter
We think the Our Place flipping platter is a great option if you need some more help flipping the dish and don't mind spending a little extra money for ease of use. The platter is made specifically for dishes like tahdig, maqluba, concón, Española and upside-down cakes that require being flipped over, and is designed to fit securely in Our Place's signature pots and pans.

It measures 12.6 inches in diameter and comes with helpful handles to make giving your dish a 180 as foolproof as possible. I also love the designs on the platters, which were created in collaboration with local artists and feature beautifully illustrated phrases in Persian, Korean and Arabic in order to pay homage to the practice of flipping dishes across many cultures. It's also available in two colors and also doubles as an elegant serving dish!

Promising review: "What I have been searching for for years. I regularly flip my rice for the amazing tahdig and have always struggled to find a flat dishpan that has sides to help with the flipping action. Since purchasing this I have used it multiple times to flip rice and display it for dinner. I just love it so much. The little Nooshe Joon inscription is so beautiful and unique, I had no idea it was possible to find something that was so close to my heritage and heart. It is sturdy and long lasting. HIGHLY RECOMMEND." — Roxana Z.
Olive oil
One thing you shouldn't skimp on while making tahdig? Olive oil. "You need fat or oil in the bottom [of your pot]," Alikhani said. "Some people add butter, but butter burns fast, so I don't recommend it. A good amount of olive oil guarantees crispiness without burning. Tahdig is a delicacy."

We like this option for olive oil that we sourced on Amazon. It's cold-pressed with a mild flavor that lends well to cooking rice dishes like tahdig, and is beloved by Amazon reviewers with an impressive 4.8 out of 5-star rating. An excellent choice for any budget, this is available in four sizes.

Promising review: "I have purchasing and cooking with Pompeian Extra-Light-Tasting Olive Oil for quite some time now, and find it to be one of the very best olive oils that money can buy. As the name indicates, it has a light flavor and therefore has myriad uses. Its light flavor makes it possible to use it in cakes as well as salads and breads. It stays fresh for quite some time. (If I buy more than I am going to use for quite some time, I find that keeping it in the refrigerator does extend its life significantly.) The best thing about it, though, is its perfectly delicate flavor. It does not overpower seasoning and herbs with which one might mix it for a bread-dipping sauce. Nor does the flavor interfere with the flavors of cakes such as poppy seed, yellow, or maple. This is truly a GREAT olive oil." — Slim2u
Starchy rice
Another staple for great tahdig? "High starch content rice, such as jasmine or good quality basmati. It will produce better crispy rice," Alikhani said. She also noted that while high-starch rice browns beautifully, it can also be prone to burning, so you might want to consider adding sliced potatoes or sweet potatoes to the bottom of your rice. It'll make your dish sweeter and help prevent your rice from burning too quickly.

We like this aromatic long grain jasmine rice option from Amazon. It has a delicate fragrance that'll add to your tahdig dish and promises a fluffy texture. Plus, it's naturally gluten-free and free from additives. It's also available in three other sizes. (If you're more inclined towards basmati rice, no worries. We like this bestselling basmati option from Amazon that reviewers call "the best rice on the market.")

Promising review: "Perfection in a rice! Our go-to favorite..we love the way it cooks up & the taste cannot be beat. We have tried many brands over the years..this is our family favorite..never-fail rice! It has never let us down & makes the very best rice pudding & fried rice! It stands out above all others we have tried." — Connie Jay Sanford
Alikhani's Persian cuisine cookbook
If you want more help nailing the perfect tahdig or want to explore more mouthwatering Persian dishes, Alikhani's essential cookbook "Sofreh" is an essential guide. It contains over 120 recipes ranging from traditional Iranian dishes to her modern favorites that she prepares at her popular Brooklyn-based restaurant, Sofreh. This comprehensive cookbook would be an excellent gift for cooking lovers. It's also available as a Kindle e-book.

Promising review: "One of the most beautiful written cookbooks, almost like a memoir that takes you into Nasim's life, love, family and heartfelt connection to Iran and its history and people. It will make you appreciate her culture and the people. Her recipes are approachable and the flavors of Persian food, which I love are in one collection from her Sofreh food to sublime stews. Her restaurant is amazing, and now you can have it at home. Amazing!" — @savvycooker

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