Krysten's Persian Tahdig • Crispy Rice Recipe

From Carrie Morey's Hot Little Suppers cookbook

Krysten's Persian Tahdig • Crispy Rice Recipe


  • Serves 6
  • • 3 cups basmati rice
  • • 8 tablespoons vegetable oil, butter, or ghee
  • • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • • ¼ teaspoon ground saffron threads dissolved in 4 tablespoons boiling water

  • Southern Alternatives
  • • 3 cups Carolina Gold Rice
  • • 8 tablespoons bacon fat
  • • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • • ¼ teaspoon ground saffron threads dissolved in 4 tablespoons boiling water

Meet Krysten!

My friend Krysten and I have known each other for decades and have watched each other grow from high schoolers to mothers, career women, and everything in between. Krysten is the most talented cook and is often my right hand at events where I am cooking. She has been an honorary Callie's Hot Little Biscuit team member since the beginning! 

One of my favorite traditions of Krysten and her husband Perry is their Persian New Year dinner (celebrated in the Spring) with traditional Persian dishes like smoked fish and rice with fava beans and dill.  

It was Krysten's traditions combined with my Southern flare that inspired the menu for our Persian-ish Porch Supper celebrating twenty friends and female founders. 

Krysten and Carrie
Carrie and Krysten on New Years Day surrounded by their favorite Southern foods.

Krysten's Takeover

Hi everyone, I'm Krysten – longtime friend of Carrie's, mother to three girls, and wife to my husband Perry who was born in Iran and moved to the US 1979. Perry and I met in 1999 in San Diego and he introduced me to Persian food and culture.  I immediately fell in love (with him and the food!) and very quickly shared it with Carrie.

We took Carrie to a Persian restaurant in La Jolla and I can still clearly remember her excitement throughout the meal when being shown how to sprinkle lemony sumac over the chicken and beef kebabs or learning to smash the grilled tomatoes and butter into the fluffy rice - her favorite.  It was a whole new food experience.

Perry’s parents, Mali and David taught me how to cook Persian food. Our three girls are half Persian and while they have been raised as Americans, it is very important to me that they know and appreciate their heritage and Persian culture.  The way I knew how to do that was through food. Thankfully, they love it. 

I lived in California for over 20 years. We had friends from all over the world, many of them middle eastern. We would cook together and eat dinner at each others houses. We would always host a party on January 1st with the traditional Southern meal of pork, hoppin’ johns and collard greens and other dishes, many from Carrie’s first cookbook. Our friends loved it and loved learning about Southern traditions. 

When we moved back to Charleston in 2018, I thought it would be fun to flip that around and host a Persian New Year dinner (celebrated in the Spring) with traditional Persian dishes like smoked fish and rice with fava beans and dill.  Our Charleston friends loved it!

Food is one thing in this world that connects all of us and nothing makes me happier than sharing it with the people I love. Persian culture and food is very similar to that of South - it is all about family and friends and love and sharing and spending time together, especially in the kitchen.  

One of my favorite memories of Perry’s father, David was sitting in the backyard on a sunny California day with our entire family, our large table covered with dozens of beautiful, bright green fava beans which we spent hours, shelling and peeling together for a rice dish with favas, dill and shallots. Peeling favas is a time-consuming process and that, to me, is the love that goes into making each dish. It was Carrie’s idea to spread the favas out on the table for the Porch Supper - perfectly symbolic of friends, family, food and love.


Tahdig: A Crispy & Golden Persian Rice Dish

The tag dig translates in farsi to “bottom of the pot” and is the crispy, golden crust that becomes the top of the rice when flipped over. For the Porch Supper, I love how Carrie did a “Southern” version of this rice by using a cast iron pan and substituting Carolina Gold rice for basmati, bacon fat for oil and mayonnaise for yogurt and I have noted this in the recipe. 


  1. Wash the rice by placing it in a large bowl and filling with lukewarm water.  Stir the rice gently with your hand and strain off the water.  Repeat this process four or five times until the rice is clean and the water is clear.

  2. In a large, non-stick pot, bring 16 cups of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.  Add the rice to the pot and boil for about 6-10 minutes or until the first grains of rice begin to rise to the top of the water.

  3. Drain the rice in a large, fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of oil, the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of saffron water and 2-3 cups of rice.  Spread this mixture over the bottom of the non-stick pot.  This will form the golden crust, or tah dig.

  5. One large, spoonful at a time, gently mount the remaining rice onto the tah dig layer.  Shape it into a pyramid to leave room for the rice’s expansion.  With the round, handle end of a wooden spoon, poke 5-7 holes throughout the rice to allow for steam to rise up through the rice while cooking.

  6. Cover the pot and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

  7. Mix together ½ cup of water with 4 tablespoons oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of saffron water.  Pour over the rice.  Return the cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for another 45 minutes.

  8. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, still covered for 10 minutes to loosen the crust on the bottom.

  9. Now for the Flip! Remove the cover from the rice and place your serving platter over the pot.  Using dish towels, hold the platter and handles of the rice pot as tightly together as possible.  In one, swift motion, flip the pot over and lower the serving platter onto the countertop.  Remove the rice pot and celebrate!  The bottom of the pot or tah dig is now the top of the rice and should be crispy and a beautiful golden color.

  10. To serve, use a spatula or even cake server to cut sections of the rice so everyone gets a crispy top with perfectly cooked rice underneath. 


Hot Little Tip

Like many Persian dishes, the rice is more of a process learned by trial and error than an actual recipe and everyone seems to do it a little differently. I was always taught to use good basmati rice and an inexpensive non-stick pot that makes “the flip” of the rice at the end a little easier. I loved Carrie’s “Southern” version of this rice where she used a cast iron pan and substituted Carolina Gold rice for basmati, bacon drippings for vegetable oil and mayonnaise for the yogurt. - Krysten