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Iranian layered rice and chicken casserole, perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas Season)
Tah chin — also pronounced tacheen — is an Iranian dish that is quick and simple to make. Partly cooked rice is flavored with saffron, yogurt and egg yolks and then layered in a dish with chicken, or lamb. For those of us American/Iranians, using Turkey is becoming common right after Thanksgiving or Christmas. The whole dish is baked and then turned out onto a platter, forming what seems like a cake with a golden, crispy crust.
- 3 to 4 lbs chicken breasts (trimmed; small chunks)
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- 2½ cups rice
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ cup butter
- Marinate and refrigerate the chicken in yogurt, saffron and cinnamon.
- Combine rice and salt with enough cold water to cover and allow to soak for a few hours or overnight if possible
- Remove lamb from yogurt mixture (save the yogurt), and bake at 375 °F for 30 minutes.
- To the saved yogurt, add 1 egg and 1 tsp saffron; beat to mix.
- Drain rice that has been soaking.
- Bring to boil 2 quarts water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and drained rice and boil for 10-15 minutes. Pour rice into colander and rinse with lukewarm water.
- Remove chicken from baking dish and set aside.
- Mix yogurt/egg mixture with rice.
- In bottom of baking dish, melt ½ cup butter with 2 tablespoons of water. Over melted butter arrange half of rice. Scatter chicken cubes over rice. Top with remaining rice. Cover tightly. Bake at 400 °F for 14 minutes.
- Then reduce heat to 325 °F and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Serves 6.
Many Iranians add barberries to the rice for a more tart flavor. In some parts of the country they also add spinach, see below if you would like this option:
- Tah chin Esfenjani: add a layer of chopped spinach and soaked prunes before each layer of chicken.
- The crispy, crunchy layer of browned rice that forms on the tah chin as it bakes is called the tahdig and is a good indicator of whether or not an Iranian Chef is good or not ☺