Persian basmati rice chelo (tahdig)

Cook rice the Persian way. The holy grail of Persian cuisine and the centre of every meal, the rice is steamed to achieve elegant, separated grains

  • Prep:5 mins
    Cook:1 hrs 30 mins
  • Serves 6

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 375
  • fat 12g
  • saturates 6g
  • carbs 60g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 1g
  • protein 7g
  • salt 1.02g


  • 500g basmati rice
  • sea salt flakes, crushed
  • light olive oil
  • 60g butter


  1. Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat if using gas, or a medium-high heat if using electric. Fill the pan with boiling water and add the rice with a generous handful of crushed sea salt flakes. Boil for 6–8 minutes until the rice is parboiled. You will know it is parboiled when the colour of the grains turns from the normal dullish white to a more brilliant white and the grains become slightly elongated and begin to soften.

  2. Drain the rice and rinse it immediately under cold running water for a couple of minutes to wash off all the excess starch until it is cool. Line the bottom of the saucepan used to parboil the rice with some nonstick baking paper (see tip).

  3. Return the paper-lined saucepan to the hob and pour in a generous drizzle of oil with a couple of good knobs of butter, then season the base of the pan with some crushed sea salt flakes. Now scatter the rice into the pan. Ensure you scatter it – don’t pack it, because you want the lightness of the falling rice to allow for steam to rise up. Wrap the pan lid in a tea towel (to lock in the steam and make for a secure, tight seal), cover the pan and cook the rice on the lowest temperature possible if using gas, or a medium-low heat if using electric, for around 45 minutes on gas and up to 1½ hours if using electric. The grains should be puffed up when cooked.

  4. Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the pan (I like to place a large serving dish over the pan and flip the rice on to the dish), then scrape out the tasty tahdig (meaning ‘bottom of the pan’ – this is the crusty bit every Persian fights over) and serve this on top of the rice.

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