1½ cups basmati rice
1½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon honey
1 fennel bulb, sliced about the same thickness as the carrots, fronds saved
1 tablespoon harissa, optional
juice of 2 oranges and zest of 1 orange
¼ teaspoon saffron
125ml plain yoghurt
2 eggs

Tahchin is a baked rice dish with a lovely crunchy outside. It is most often made with chicken or lamb but this is a vegetable version inspired by a delicious caramelised carrot and rice dish I ate in Tehran. Spicy foods are uncommon in Iran but I like the kick of a little harissa in this recipe.


1.Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with water.
2.Leave to soak for 1-2 hours then drain.
3.Fill the saucepan with water and bring to the boil then add the rice and 1 teaspoon of salt, bring back to the boil and boil for 5 minutes (10 minutes for brown basmati rice) then drain and set aside to cool.
4.Heat the oven to 200°C.
5.Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onions for 5 minutes.
6.Add the carrots, honey, fennel, harissa, orange juice and zest along with a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes until tender and caramelised. Set aside.
7.Put the saffron in a small mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
8.Transfer it to a small cup and pour over 60ml of nearly boiling water.
9.Cover with a saucer and leave to steep for 15 minutes.
10.Whisk together the yoghurt, eggs and saffron water and mix into the cooled rice with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt.
11.Grease a 20cm cake tin (not loose bottomed) or ovenproof dish well with 2 tablespoons of the butter.
12.Lay a piece of fennel frond over the bottom.
13.Roughly chop the remaining fronds and stir into the rice.
14.Spread half the yoghurt rice evenly over the bottom and a little up the sides of the tin, then add the carrot mix in the centre and top with the rice.
15.Dot the remaining butter over the top.
16.Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes then turn out onto a serving plate.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Jessica Hemmings

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