Tah-Cheen Baked Persian Chicken and Rice Casserole
Hi friends! Welcome to the holidays. I’m sharing a technique for using up left over turkey or chicken meat and left over rice. Tah-cheen is a Persian baked chicken and rice dish. We love it in our family and I enjoy preparing dinners that all 4 of us gobble up. The way I make it is quite Americanized like me 😉 and includes several short cuts. I normally make Tah-cheen with left overs – tonight I’m making it with fresh cooked chicken and rice.
Do you have any Thanksgiving day left overs left in your house? Our left overs were wiped out day 2 after turkey day. I’ve heard of friends roasting additional turkeys to have more. If that’s you and you still have some bird to use up, here is a dish worth exploring. If not you can certainly use a pre-roasted chicken (I’ve done it many times) or cook up a couple chicken breasts in the crockpot (my method tonight). If you are a vegetarian, no worries. This dish is flavorful enough to skip the meat altogether without losing the essence of the dish. Tah-cheen is comfort food Persian-style. In a nutshell it contains rice, chicken, yogurt, egg yolks, saffron, turmeric, and salt and pepper. I leave out the butter and oil and get by with some spray oil in the pan. I use garlic although typically the recipe uses onion, no garlic. Traditional recipes for Tah-cheen call for barberries and/or currants – I skip those as they can be hard to find and we like it plain.
Let’s have a little etymology lesson. “Tah Cheen” can be translated as ‘arranged at the bottom of the pot’. Very literally we arrange the chicken and yogurt/egg mixture at the bottom of the pot (or in this case at the bottom of the Pyrex). A similar term worth learning if you are hanging with Iranians or just want to learn the lingo is “Tah Deeg” (some spell this ‘tah dig’). “Tah Deeg” means ‘the bottom of the pot’ – it is the burned rice at the bottom of the pot. The crispy, slightly burned under layer of rice is considered a delicacy and tastes like crunchy popcorn. This dish I’m talking about today, “Tah-Cheen” doesn’t come out quite as crunchy as “Tah Deeg” but has hints of it’s yummy, toasty flavor.
As mentioned, use left over cooked turkey or chicken for this recipe For preparing Basmati rice we use a rice cooker. If you need help with how to cook Basmati rice in a rice cooker, refer to a previous post, “How to Cook Persian Rice in a Rice Cooker”.
Once you have your cooked chicken/turkey and rice, it’s just a matter of mixing, layering, and arranging. Remember that “Cheen” means to arrange 😉
If you are having trouble getting a hold of saffron, you can substitute with more turmeric. I’ve made it this way in the past and it is also very good. Ideally use both saffron and turmeric. Spanish saffron can be found in most grocery stores.
- 4-5 cups of cooked rice (about 3 cups uncooked)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or the equivalent in cooked chicken or turkey
- 3 eggs, yolks only
- 2 cups plain, non-fat yogurt
- ½ teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic cloves
- A couple pinches of turmeric
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Spray cooking oil
- Preheat oven to 350
- In a large bowl combine yogurt, egg yolks, and spices including the dissolved saffron and the turmeric
- Add the cooked rice to the yogurt mixture and mix well
- Spray the bottom and edges of a glass Pyrex baking dish
- Spoon out ⅔ of the rice mixture evenly across the bottom layer of the baking dish
- Cut up cooked chicken (or turkey) and season with salt, pepper, and garlic
- Layer chicken (or turkey) over the rice mixture
- Add remaining rice mixture on top - add extra saffron if needed
- Cover pan with tin foil
- Bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour and a half or until the bottom of the Pyrex is browned removing the tin foil for the last 5 minutes
I have to share about a new Persian food high tech discovery!
I am obsessed with this saffron spray my sis’ in law introduced to me. She picked it up from a middle eastern market in Walnut Creek. I found it on Amazon: Pure Saffron Spray. The price is high, about $18 a can. Let me tell you it is so worth it! The usual process for using saffron is to grind the dried saffron only to then dissolve it in boiling water. It’s labor intensive as is most of what it takes in Persian cuisine. That is why I’m loving this saffron spray so much. It is so fast and easy and the color comes out vibrant, beautiful, dark yellow. The flavor is the same as the ground and dissolved type at least to my taste buds. You can spray it on top of rice and then fluff it up with a fork for a jeweled effect. It is also wonderful on grilled salmon. Too bad I don’t have an affiliate partnership with Sadaf 😉
For my last bit of sharing I’d like to talk about appliances.
In this recipe and for tonight’s dinner I used our rice cooker and our crockpot. Aside from the indoor grill pan I’d say the rice cooker and the crock pot are the most used kitchen appliances in our house. Recently some good friends shared with me their love of the Instant Pot and it got me curious. My first reaction was, do I really need another appliance and where am I going to store it?
From what I’ve heard using an Instant Pot is a time saver and makes a variety of dishes easily. I like the sounds of that. Tell me, do you use an Instant Pot??