Many years ago, we had moved to Ra’anana, the first person to befriend me was Sara Livian who was raised Chabad Lubavitch in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Sara is married to a Persian man who though born in Tehran was raised in Milan. This may be the height of Persian blaspheme but Sarah makes the best Persian rice I have ever tasted and it is with thanks to her that I’m sharing this recipe.

The carrots and or onions here are delicious optional additions.
For onion addition:

  • 4 onions, peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil

For carrot addition:

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cooking the rice:
  • 555 g (3 cups) basmati rice, checked and rinsed
  • 2 liters (8 cups) water
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) canola oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt

Steaming the rice and making tadig:

  • 1/4-inch canola oil poured into the bottom of the saucepan
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron

For the onions:
1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick sauté pan once oil is hot add the onions and a pinch of salt and fry until very brown and soft about 7-15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside, if cooking the carrots in the same pan, use a paper towel to wipe down pan

For carrots:
1. In a large non-stick sauté pan with a lid, heat the oil in the pan, once hot add the carrots and sauté for a few minutes until the carrots start to change colour. Add the water and cover the pan. Cook until the carrots are just tender. Drain the water if any is left at the bottom of the pan, season the carrots lightly with salt, and set aside.

To cook the rice:
1. Fill a large non-stick saucepan with 8 cups of water; add oil and salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Add the rice and continue cooking over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally.
3. After 5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to scoop some grains from the water.
4. Break one grain in half to make sure it is “al dente”. Turn off the heat and pour rice into the colander to drain; set aside.

To steam and make tadig:
1. Place the empty saucepan back onto the stovetop over medium heat. Add 1/4-inch canola oil and 2 tablespoons water. Add saffron powder. Stir together.
2. Add the drained rice and shape it into a pyramid. If adding the carrots and the onions, only add half the rice to the pot, then add the onions distributing them evenly in a thin layer, and add the carrots over the onions, and then top with the remaining rice.
3. Cover the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes until rice begins to steam.
4. Uncover and place 2 paper towels (one on top of the other) over the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Replace the lid tightly.
5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.

To serve:
1. With a wide spatula, scoop the rice from the pot, making sure not to disturb the crust (tadig) that formed on the bottom of the pot. Serve the rice on a flat serving platter, mounding it into the shape of a pyramid.
2. Turn the tadig out onto a flat serving platter by inverting the pot, as you would invert a cake pan, or cut it into pieces and serve around the rice.