Khoresht-e Qaarch with Tahdig (Persian Mushroom & Chicken Ragout with Crispy Rice)
“Khoresht is a common name for a fragrant Persian Stew. There are many different varieties (and spellings) of Khoresht –from chicken and mushrooms to lamb to the famous Khoresht Fesenjaan made with ground walnuts and Pomegranates. A Khoresht also lends itself to a vegetarian option by simply using a variety of mushrooms or other vegetables.”
— Diane Kazemi
- 1 ½ – 2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs
- 2 medium large yellow onions
- Olive oil
- 3-4 Tbls. lime juice
- pinch of Saffron * (Persian preferred. See note at end of recipe.)
- 1 ½ lbs. mushrooms
- 1 Tbls. flour
- 1 5 gallon pot
- 1 sauté pan for mushrooms
- Wash and thoroughly dry chicken thighs. Set aside.
- Slice mushrooms. Set aside.
- Peel and slice onions.
- Fry onions in oil in 5-gallon pot until onions just begin to turn golden.
- Add chicken to onions and sauté until lightly browned.
- Add one cup hot water, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside, off flame.
- Heat sauté pan slightly and add 2 Tbls.Olive oil.
- Sauté mushrooms in sauté pan for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle 1 Tbls flour over mushrooms; mix well until absorbed. Turn off flame.
- Add the mushrooms to the chicken and onions.
- Add pinch of saffron and lime juice to chicken and onions.
- Cook over low heat for another 5-10 minutes.
- Serve over rice or Tahdig*
For technique photos, please click here for photo gallery.
*Tahdig, the crisp rice from the bottom of the pot in which the rice is cooked, is often referred to as the “Jewel of Persian Cuisine.” In Farsi, the word is derived from “Tah” which means “bottom of something” and “Deeg” which means Pot. It is often served to guests; usually there will be jockeying at the table over who deserves the last piece.
* Saffron is a potent spice that is a staple of Persian, Middle Eastern, Indian and Spanish cooking. A pinch packs enough flavor for an entire recipe. Saffron appears as deep red-orange golden filaments or threads. It is usually sold by grams. Saffron is also found in Kashmir, Spain and Mexico. Each variety has a unique flavor and strength; Persian Saffron is generally considered the highest quality, differentiated by color, aroma and strength. ¼ unit of Persian Saffron is equal to 1/5 unit of a lesser Saffron. Look for a label of origin if you are purchasing Saffron in a jar. If the spice is simply labeled “Saffron” it indicates a lesser grade and may result in a slightly metallic aftertaste if you use too much. The filaments should be softened in a Tablespoon of warm water before using. (For Sourcing, Click Here.)
Chef Hoss’ Saffron Secret: mash a pinch of saffron together with a small sugar cube. Toast lightly in a dry, non-stick pan to bring out the flavor. (Similar to the manner in which cumin or anise seeds are toasted prior to use). Steep in ¾ cup WARM water before incorporating into the recipe. Use 1-2 teaspoons (or to taste) of the Saffron Water.
Tahdig (Persian Rice with a Crispy Crust)
Serves 6 – 8
“Tahdig is a special dish. After just one bite, you will want to make this over and over again. The process takes two steps – first the rice is boiled, then steamed – but once you understand the rhythm of the cooking process, it is quite easy. Make sure you use a non-stick pot to prepare this dish.”
— Chef/Owner Hoss Zaré, Zaré FlyTrap, San Francisco, CA
- One cup rice per person (preferably Basmati). Instant rice will not work in this recipe.
- Water to cover by two inches.
- Salt, one Tbls. per cup of rice for Step One; plus 1 tsp. for Step Two.
- Vegetable oil (4 Tlbs. for Step One, plus additional for Step Two.)
- Pinch Saffron, softened and diluted in warm water * (See notes for Khoresht recipe above)
- Optional: thinly sliced Russet potatoes or pieces of Lavash. HAVE THIS READY TO GO!
- Optional: 4 Tbls. UNSALTED Butter for Step Two.
- A non-stick medium pot is recommended for this recipe.
- Wooden spoon
- Rinse rice until the water runs clear.
- Soak rice with salt in large bowl for at least one hour or, preferably, overnight.
- Boil water in a medium size non-stick pot.
- Add rice (and the soaking salt water) to water and cook for 10 minutes, continuously stirring.
- Check for texture of par-boiled rice. It should be half-crunchy. i.e. soft, but firm in the middle.
- REMOVE FROM HEAT.
- Strain and run cold water over the rice to stop the cooking and wash out some of the salt.
- Wash and rinse the non-stick pot. Heat the non-stick pot – without rice –on top of the stove at a medium heat until a few drops of water sprinkled over the bottom sizzle. (WATCH CAREFULLY SO THAT THE POT DOES NOT BURN.)
- Add 4 Tbls. vegetable oil to the pot plus 4 oz. water.
- Add pinch Saffron diluted in water.* (SEE NOTE ABOVE.) This will give the crust a golden color and enhance the flavor.
- Lay sliced potatoes if using (rice alone is fine, but potatoes provide more control over the crispy end result) over the bottom.
- Sprinkle tsp. of salt over the potatoes.
- Pile rice in a dome shape loosely over the potatoes.
- With a handle of a long wooden spoon, poke 4-5 holes in the rice down to the bottom. This provides a “breathing lines” so the rice can cook evenly. (Optional: Pour 2-4 Tbls. Olive oil or melted butter into the holes. This enhances the richness of the rice.)
- Sprinkle a little water over the top of the rice. Cook rice for about 5 minutes until it begins to steam.
- Lower heat to medium low. Cover lid tightly and then place a kitchen towel over the lid.
(This will prevent any moisture from returning to the pot.)
- Cook for 55 minutes to 1 hr and 5 minutes. You should smell the crispy rice, potato or lavash base at this point.
- Remove from heat.
- Shake the pot to loosen the crust. Open the lid. Cover the top with a serving platter and flip the rice onto it. The Tahdig will be on top and provide a bed for the Khoresht.