Tahchin – a Persian dish of chicken, yoghurt and barberries




Here is another of those dishes which is just made to share. Tahchin means ‘arranged at the bottom’ and is composed of a crisp saffron-infused rice layered with chicken, youghurt and barberries. You might have a fight on your hands for the bottom (top)  layer of rice which is crisp and crunchy and just divine, so be prepared!! By the way, if you cannot get barberries, then chopped dried cranberries are a good substitute.



1 onion, roughly chopped

600g skinless chicken thigh fillets

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

360g  (2 cups) basmati rice, soaked in cold salted water for 2 hours

3 egg yolks

250g Greek-style yoghurt

50g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon dried barberries, plus extra to serve

Chopped pistachios, to serve


Fried onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onions, finely sliced

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons vinegar


To make fried onion, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and I teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring for 13 minutes or until golden and crisp. Stir in sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 2 minutes or until caramelised. Set aside to cool.

Place onion and chicken in a large saucepan, then cover with cold water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove 60ml cooking liquid, place in a bowl with saffron and set aside to steep. Drain chicken, reserving remaining cooking liquid, then use two forks to shred the chicken. Allow to cool completely.
Drain rice, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and refresh under cold water.
Combine egg yolks and yoghurt in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix chicken with 2 tablespoons of the yoghurt mixture. Stir remaining mixture through the rice.
Melt butter in a 21cm deep frying pan over medium heat. Add half the saffron mixture, then cover with two-thirds of the rice mixture. Arrange chicken in an even layer over the rice, then scatter over the barberries. Top with remaining rice mixture, then evenly pour over the remaining saffron mixture and 60ml of the reserved cooking liquid.
Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour or until, when lifted slightly, a golden crust has formed on the bottom. Invert onto a serving plate and scatter with pistachios, fried onion and extra barberries. Serve cut into wedges.
(This recipe was in Feast Magazine, Issue 28 2014. Recipe from Phoebe Wood and photography by Brett Stevens)

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