This saffron chicken and rice bake, Tachin in Farsi, is my absolutely favorite Persian dish to make, hands down.Tachin is usually made in a pot on the stove, but I’ve always preferred this oven baked casserole style version. It’s such a delicious, colorful, and fragrant alternative to your standard chicken and rice casserole.
Start out by boiling any cut of boneless skinless chicken (breast, tenders, or even thighs work well – I used tenders this time) with some onions, salt, and turmeric for about 25 minutes. Cooking the chicken in this broth keeps it tender and juicy while adding the nice yellow/orange color that’s so characteristic of this dish. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice according to package instructions.
Although turmeric helps add some great color, saffron is the true star of this dish. If you’ve never had saffron before, I highly recommend it! It’s a staple spice found in every persian home and is used in a variety of recipes ranging from stews and soups to tasty sweets. Saffron can be a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way. For this recipe, soak 1/8 tsp of saffron in 3-4 oz of hot water for at least 15 minutes in a small glass tea cup or mug. The saffron infused water is what is used in this recipe.
Once chicken is cooked, remove chicken and some onions from broth and chop into 1/2 inch chunks. Set aside chicken and broth for later use. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1 tbs butter into a large glass casserole dish and put dish into preheating oven until the butter melts, about 1-2 minutes. Coat the base and sides of the baking dish with melted butter and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, egg, salt, pepper, turmeric, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Add 2 tbs each of broth and saffron water to the yogurt mixture and continue whisking until smooth as pictured below. In another bowl, add 1/2 of the cooked rice and stir in 4-5 tbs yogurt mixture until evenly coated.
Pour the yogurt coated rice into the casserole dish and spread into an even layer using a spatula or backnof a spoon. Drizzle the bottom rice layer with 1-2 tbs each of broth and saffron water. In the same bowl you mixed the rice and yogurt in, add the chopped chicken and onions and 4-5 tbs yogurt mixture and stir until evenly coated. Spread yogurt coated chicken evenly over top of the bottom rice layer in the casserole dish. Again, drizzle 1-2 tbs each of the broth and saffron water over the center chicken layer. Stir the remaining rice and yogurt mixture together in the bowl and spread evenly over top of the chicken layer in the casserole dish. Drizzle about 1-2 tbs broth and remaining saffron water over the top rice layer.
Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes in preheated oven. Remove foil and continue baking an additional 20 minutes. Broil for the last 5 minutes or so if you want a crispy rice crust (tah-dig is amazing!).
Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into equal portions like a sheet cake. Serve with a crisp salad or yogurt side dish.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Until next time.
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breast, tenders, or thighs – your choice)
- 2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into big chunks
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 3/4 tsp turmeric, divided
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp saffron
- 3-4 oz boiling water (for saffron)
- 3 cups water (for broth)
- 1 tbs butter
- Rinse and pat dry chicken
- Pour 3 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil
- Season water with 1/4 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt and add onion chunks and chicken to boiling water
- Boil chicken for 25 minutes
- While chicken cooks, prepare and cook the rice according to package instructions
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Put saffron in small glass cup and add about 3-4 oz boiling water. Let sit at least 15 minutes until water is infused with saffron and has a bright orange/red color
- Grease large glass casserole dish with butter by putting butter in dish and placing in oven for 1-2 minutes while it’s preheating until butter is melted. Coat base and sides of dish with melted butter
- Remove cooked chicken and some onions from broth and chop into 1/2 inch chunks and set aside. Do not discard the rest of the broth yet, you still need it
- In a separate large bowl, whisk egg, yogurt, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder until smooth
- Whisk in 2 tbs each of broth and saffron water to yogurt mixture
- In another bowl, add half of the cooked rice and stir in 4-5 tbs of yogurt mixture until rice is evenly coated
- Pour the rice and yogurt mix into the greased baking dish and spread with a spatula or back of a spoon until you have a flat even layer
- Drizzle some broth and saffron water over the rice layer, about 1-2 tbs each
- In the same bowl you had your rice and yogurt mixture in, combine chopped chicken and onions with 4-5 tbs of yogurt mixture and spread evenly over the rice layer in baking dish
- Drizzle some broth and saffron water over the chicken layer, about 1-2 tbs each
- Combine the second half of the cooked rice and 4-5 tbs yogurt mixture and mix until rice is evenly coated
- Pour the rice and yogurt mix on top of the chicken layer in the baking dish and spread with a spatula or back of a spoon until you have a flat even top layer
- Drizzle some broth and saffron water over the top rice layer, about 1-2 tbs each
- Cover baking dish loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes
- Remove foil and keep baking an additional 20 minutes (broil for the last 5 minutes it you want a nice crunchy crust!)
- Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes
- Slice Tachin like you would a sheet cake into 8-10 equal portions
- Serve with crisp salad or yogurt side