Creating and then perfecting a good recipe is always a happy occasion especially when it is a dish that you have always loved and craved. The recipe for this Tahchin Morgh is that recipe for me. It is comforting and delicious with lots of tender chicken in the layers and it has a buttery TahDig that is to die for. I have made this Tahchin Morgh more times than I can remember because my family and friends love it and ask for it frequently. There is no guesswork with this recipe; if you follow the directions you will get the perfect Tahchin with a crispy golden TahDig every time.
Tahchin Morgh is a delicious comfort food with an elegant presentation without too much fuss. There are different types of Tahchin in Persian cuisine and all of them involve layering rice and some type of meat with other ingredients, such as this other Tahchin post on my blog, Tahchin Lubia Cheshm Bolboli ba Mahicheh. Tahchin Morgh has a simple technique; basically it is aromatic fluffy rice layered with cooked chicken. What makes it special is that chicken thighs, or drumsticks, or a combination of the two are cooked with pieces of onion, salt, pepper and little water until the meat falls off the bone, then it is layered with cooked rice. Choosing chicken pieces with bone and the use of small amount of water is the way to cook very flavorful chicken with an extremely rich broth to steam the rice with.
Tahchin means “arranged in the bottom” and Morgh means chicken in Farsi. This recipe is the Tabrizi (Azeri) version of the Tahchin and is different from the recipes that mix all of the rice layers with the yogurt and saffron. In this recipe only the bottom layer, or TahDig rice is mixed with yogurt and saffron. So while the TahDig layer bakes into a crispy golden crust, the rice is steamed with the rich chicken broth and stays fluffy and light.
My Tahchin has four layers: The bottom layer is a mixture of cooked basmati rice, yogurt, egg, and saffron. The next layer is aromatic basmati rice and Persian Rice Spice. The third layer is the flavorful and tender pieces of cooked chicken. The last layer is more basmati rice sprinkled with rice spice. To make this Tahchin taste buttery and amazing some cold butter is added on top which melts into the rice as it bakes in the oven.
Persians love their TahDig and the majority would agree that it is the most delicious part of a rice dish. Making this Tahchin in a rectangular form has a huge bonus! TahDig means “the bottom of the pot,” which in this case is the crispy layer in the bottom of a large baking dish. If you are one of those people who can never get enough TahDig, you will love the very large piece of TahDig that comes with each serving of this all time favorite.
Tahchin Morgh is baked with a beautiful golden TahDig and it is inverted onto a rectangular serving platter or a shallow baking sheet and cut into equal pieces. This simple dish becomes an elegant centerpiece that deserves all the praise, and it is usually served with Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs), Torshi Sir (pickled garlic), or Salad Shirazi.
Cook the thigh and/or leg pieces in little water with onion, salt and pepper until it easily falls apart with a fork.
Remove the chicken from the pot and boil the broth to reduce. Remove the meat in big chunks from the bones, add to a bowl and stir in the reduced broth, chill for at least 30-40 minutes.
With the rack in the lowest setting preheat the oven to 400 F. Partially cook the rice according to my Steamed Persian Rice post up to the point where cooked rice is rinsed under cold water and drained. In a medium bowl whisk together yogurt, egg and saffron
Stir in 2 cups of the par cooked rice into the yogurt mix. Add the butter and vegetable oil to the 9 x 13 x 2 glass baking dish. Place the dish in the preheated oven just until the butter melts and the mixture starts sizzling. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spread the rice and yogurt mixture evenly in the bottom of the dish (this is the first layer)
For the second layer add half of the remaining cooked rice to the baking dish and sprinkle 1/2 tsp Persian Rice Spice. For the third layer add the chilled chicken and broth mixture.
For the fourth layer add the remaining rice evenly on top of the cooked chicken, sprinkle the top with 1/2 tsp rice spice and add the cubed butter on top. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, make some cuts in the foil and bake. After 1 hour and 15 minutes remove the baking dish from the oven. You should be able to see some golden brown color along the bottom of the glass dish without lifting it. Do not over bake, the bottom of the Tahchin bakes darker than the sides. Since the oven temperatures vary, the first time you make this Tahchin you might have to adjust the time according to your oven. If the sides are not golden brown, return the dish back to the oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Remove the foil, run a knife along the sides of the baking dish to release the Tahchin. Place a large shallow baking sheet or a rectangular serving platter over the baking dish. Hold the baking sheet and glass dish together with mittens and invert.
Remove the baking dish and let Tahchin Morgh sit for 10 minutes on the counter before cutting it to 8 equal pieces.
(UPDATE): The ingredients for (HALF) Tahchin Morgh: SERVES: 4
**You will need a 2-Qt (8x8x3) oven-proof glass baking dish
2 pounds skinless chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (about 5 – 6)
2 cups cold water
One medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into several pieces
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp ground black Pepper
2 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice
4 TBSP yogurt
1 large egg
Dash saffron (optional)
1 TBSP vegetable oil, to be mixed with the yogurt and egg mixture
3 TBSP vegetable oil
3 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp Persian rice spice
2 TBSP cubed butter, for the top of the rice
Follow the cooking instructions posted for the large Tahchin. For the first layer, mix 1 egg with 4 tablespoons yogurt, a dash of saffron, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 cup par-cooked basmati rice
Preheated oven, lowest rack 400 F. Bake for about 1:15 minutes, or until the tahdig is golden brown
Temperature: Preheated 400 F oven, the lowest rack
Bake time: 1 hour 15 minutes
You will need one 9 x 13 x 2 glass baking dish and one rectangular platter larger than the baking dish
- FOR THE CHICKEN
- 3 ½ - 4 pounds skinless chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (about 8-10)
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into several pieces
- 1 ½ cups cold water
- FOR THE RICE
- 4 cups uncooked basmati rice (I substituted 1 cup with Jasmine rice for added aroma)
- 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ tsp saffron powder (optional)
- 6 TBSP vegetable oil, divided (1 TBSP for TahDig mixture and 5 TBSP for the baking dish)
- 5 TBSP butter
- 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice
- 3 TBSP cold butter, cut into small cubes
- To cook the chicken: Add the skinless chicken pieces to a stockpot with a good lid that will not allow too much moisture loss. Add salt, pepper, the cut onion and 1 ½ cups water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 1 ½ hours, or until the chicken falls apart very easily with a fork.
- Remove the chicken from the stockpot and set aside to cool.
- If there is more than 1 cup of broth in the stockpot, bring it to a boil and let it boil for 3-5 minutes, or until it is reduced to 1 cup. Turn off the heat. Pour the reduced broth into a medium bowl, smash the cooked onions with a fork and set aside.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, take all the meat off the bone in large chunks. Mix the meat with broth until it is well coated. Chill the meat and broth mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30-40 minutes, or until the broth solidifies. This step may be done up to 3-4 hours in advance.
- To make the rice; Follow my previous blog post Persian Steamed Rice using 4 cups of basmati rice up to point where the rice is partially cooked, added to colander and rinsed under cold water and drained completely. Set aside.
- To make the Tahchin: Place the oven rack at the lowest setting. Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a medium bowl whisk together 1 egg, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and the optional saffron. Stir in 2 cups of the par cooked rice with a rubber spatula and mix until all the rice is coated. Set aside
- Add 5 tablespoons vegetable oil and 5 tablespoons butter to a 9 x 13 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Place the dish in the preheated oven 3-5 minutes, or until all the butter melts and starts sizzling. Watch very closely so the oil does not get too hot and cause a grease fire.
- Using mittens transfer the baking dish to a heat proof surface.
- First layer: Add the rice and yogurt mixture to the baking dish and spread evenly to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Second layer: Spread half of the remaining rice evenly on top of the yogurt mixture and sprinkle the rice layer with ½ teaspoon Persian Rice Spice.
- Third layer: Stir the chilled chicken and broth well and arrange evenly on top to cover all of the rice layer.
- Fourth layer: Add the rest of the rice on top of the chicken, press gently with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with ½ tsp Persian Rice Spice.
- Arrange the cold butter cubes on the rice layer with equal distance from each other.
- Cover the baking dish with a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and seal the sides by pressing the aluminum foil to the dish. Use a sharp knife to cut one slit on each corner and then a few in the center of the dish.
- Bake on the lowest rack of the preheated 400 F oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the lowest portion of the sides of Tahchin are golden brown. Do not overbake; the bottom will bake darker than the sides. Since the oven temperatures vary, you may have to adjust the baking time the first time that you bake this Tahchin. If the lower sides are not golden brown, return the Tahchin back to the oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven, remove the aluminum foil. Run a knife along the sides of the baking dish to release the Tahchin. Place a large rectangular platter or a shallow baking sheet on top of the dish. Use mittens and hold both platter and the glass dish and invert the Tahchin. Let the Tahchin sit on the counter for 10 minutes.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the Tahchin into 8 equal pieces and serve with Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs), Torshi Sir (pickled garlic), and/or Salad Shirazi.