Perfect Persian Rice

You can cook rice in a number of ways. The two most favored methods are boiling and then par boiling and steaming which is what we usually do when we are cooking rice the Persian way. It’s a little more labour intensive but I think the results are much better: the grains are separate and elongate during the cooking process to produce an end result you will be proud to serve to your family and guests.

However you have to use the right rice….. please don’t expect a good result from just any old ‘uncles’ rice. It has to be basmati rice and even then there are different grades of basmati rice so choose a high-grade and you won’t go wrong. In the UK ‘Tilda’ rice is available from all supermarkets and this would be my rice of choice.

Next it’s really essential to rinse and pre soak the rice. Place 1cup of rice per person (and I always do one extra)  in a bowl of water and swish it round gently and you might be surprised at just how murky the water becomes. This is rice dust and it will make your rice sticky and unpleasant so, AND even worse it’s starchy and therefore calorie laden… so keep rinsing the rice until the water becomes clear. Then soak it in salted water for at least two hours before you begin the cooking process. The salt helps the rice to preserve its shape and adds flavour. After two hours, you might be amazed at how much the rice has swollen.

These are grains of basmati rice before soaking and cooking

The same rice grains after boiling.

Note the difference in size and colour


Please note:  before you begin please read my notes on ‘ What you need to know about rice’

~Equipment you will need~

  • A large heavy bottomed non stick pan with a lid.
  • A large mesh sieve
  • A tea towel to wrap around the lid. Please be sure you secure it safely to avoid any risk of it catching fire.


  • Prepare an infusion of saffron ( za’faran) as described in ‘Saffron and what to do with it’
  • If you want  a good ‘ Tadig’ ( the  crispy rice crust) prepare the potatoes or naan now. Cut potatoes into thin slices. You can substitute potatoes with naan ( flat bread) or white cabbage leaves and I have even done it with iceberg lettuce leaves.


Use 1 cup of rice per person

  1. Thoroughly wash the rice until the water runs clear
  2. Soak the rice in cold, salted water for at least 2 hours before beginning to cook
  3. Boil up a large pan ofwater and when boiling  add a teaspoon of salt, a drop of saffron and a 1/3rd  teaspoon of butter
  4. Drain the rice and add it carefully to the boiling water. The water temperature will drop so allow it to comes to the boil again. Stay with it now and stir occasionally but be careful not to damage the grains.
  5. You will start to see the rice begin to expand in length. Continue to boil until the grains become ‘al dente’. Be careful they don’t become fluffy.
  6. When ‘al dente’ , drain in a mesh sieve.
  7. Rinse  to remove any unwanted starch and put to one side and allow it continue to drain.
  8. For ‘Taadig’, melt a desert spoon of butter or ghee in the pan you intend to cook the rice in.
  9. Add a tablespoon of oil, and 1/3rd of a cup of boiling water. Stir.
  10. Pour most of this into a cup for later use and add another tablespoon of oil into the pan.
  11. Place your potatoes,  naan or cabbage in the bottom of the pan and then gently place the rice on top
  12. Add 1/2 of the liquid butter, oil and water mix and wait until you see some steam.
  13. Cover with the lid and steam on a low heat for an hour to an hour and a half adding more of the liquid mix as needed. You want to prevent the rice from becoming too dry and to allow the taadig to form a crispy crust. Dont however add any more of this in the last 20 minutes of the cooking process.

~Before serving~


  • Remove a few spoons of rice into a bowl and add the infusion of za’faran. mix gently.
  • Gently spoon the rest of the rice on to your serving dish and add the za’faran rice and gently mix in.
  • Finally if you used potatoes for the taadig you can place these on your dish too. If you have any other taadig then use a separate dish to serve it in.



12 thoughts on “Perfect Persian Rice

    1. Hello Sayali welcome to Persian food I know you’re going to love it. ‘Al dente’ means soft to bite. It’s an italian expression I believe but serves the purpose well! At the boiling stage of cooking rice, after about 4 or 5 minutes you will see the rice become longer in shape. When it starts to grow, carefully remove a grain and bite it. If it’s just soft to bite, remove the rice from the water and rinse in luke warm water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and pre soak the rice first in salted water. This helps to ensure that the grains maintain their form. Let me know how it goes. Javane 🙂

  1. I just found your web site and it makes me miss my friend Elham from Iran SO much. She made such good food! She taught me to make rice this way – the right way! This looks like something she made that she called Tadig e Seib Zamini, please forgive my spelling.

    I’ll be making the Khoresht e Fessenjan asap. When Elham told me what was in that dish I couldn’t believe it! Such wonderful flavors. I made Havich Polo so much but now I have no bar berries! She also brought back from Iran a 7 herb mixture for me to use in recipes I tried. What is in that mixture? Can I herbs available here to make this seasoning?

    1. Hi Frimmy Im so sorry that you’re missing your friend….that’s really sad but no need to miss the food too. No matter where in the world you live you can buy barbarries in any Iranian grocery store and everything you need to know about herbs is here under ‘sabzi’. Im not sure which dish you are referring to but here you will also find a list of different dishes and which sabzi goes in which. I hope it helps a little. Let me know if there is any thing else you need help with and enjoy your khoresht e feseenjun…. its one of the best! J 🙂

  2. I just recently found your site, and I was reading through. I wanted to say that I’ve also done Tadig with tomato, and also onions

  3. 1. Is it ok, after steaming the rice, to put it in a rice cooker, set on “keep warm”?
    2. How do restaurants do this?

    I am planning to serve this in our company restaurant here in Lagos. This is not a real restaurant, it’s just for the employees, but the ordering is the same. They order at different times. I would, of course, want to be able to serve this right away.

    I am making a combo meal – chello kebab with saffron rice (no taadig), grilled tomato and yoghurt dip. I am still trying to make up my mind is I should include a salad or a grilled onion.

    1. How wonderful!!!! and personally I would include a salad to make the meal balanced and some raw onion as part of the salad maybe.
      In answer to your questions … why dont you cook the rice in a rice cooker anyway. Iranian rice cookers are designed to cook tahdig but Im pretty sure any rice cooker will make pretty good rice and let you have some time to prepare other things. In restaurants they mostly use rice cookers!!

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