Rice—called *polo* in Farsi—is a staple side dish in Persian cuisine. It’s often prepared by steaming with oil or butter to create a crispy layer of rice on the bottom of the pot called tahdig (pronounced *tah-deeg*). Tah beans bottom and *dig* means pot in Farsi—it’s literally what happens at the bottom of the pot. \n\nThis caramelized, crispy crust is often the most prized part of Iranian rice dishes such as katteh (rice simply steamed with water, oil, butter, and sometimes saffron), baghali polo (rice with dill and fava beans), and sabzi polo (herbed rice). In all of these dishes and more, rice is blanched to an al dente texture and then transferred to an oiled pan to finish cooking by steaming, during which time the oil at the bottom of the pan helps form the golden crispy tahdig.\n\nPersian rice dishes are made with long-grain white rice that maintains separate grains when cooked. It can be hard to find Persian rice varieties outside of Iran so [basmati rice](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-cook-the-perfect-basmati-rice) is usually recommended.\n\nTahdig requires a pot large enough to boil a large quantity of water: Use a three-quart pot for two cups of rice or a six-quart pot for up to five cups of rice. The best kind of pot for tahdig is an inexpensive nonstick pot, which will allow the tahdig to release easily from the bottom of the pan. You can also use a well seasoned cast-iron Dutch oven, but you may need to increase the amount of butter and oil, as it will be more difficult to flip. \n\nWhen the rice is steaming, you’ll need to wrap a kitchen towel around the lid to prevent moisture from returning to the pot. Tie a clean cotton towel to the handle of your pot, or buy a damkesh, a specially made cloth lid cover.\n\nRice with tahdig is served with many Persian foods including:\n\n- Khoresh, or persian stews\n- Grilled [meat](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-grill-the-perfect-skirt-steak-easy-skirt-steak-recipe)\n- [Grilled vegetables](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-pickle-and-grill-with-ramps)\n- Kabobs (Persian kebabs)\n- Fried fish\n- Mast-o Khiar (Persian cucumber yogurt sauce)\n- [Roasted chicken](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/thomas-kellers-perfect-oven-roasted-chicken)\n\nThe most common type of tahdig is made with rice, but by placing something else thin and crisp-able at the bottom of the pan you can make tahdig from:\n\n1. Potatoes, peeled and sliced to ¼-inch-thickness\n2. Lettuce\n3. Flatbread such as lavash, pita, flour tortilla\n4. Yogurt tahdig: made by mixing some of pre-cooked rice with yogurt and saffron and placing this yogurt-y rice at the bottom of the pan\n5. Pasta tahdig: made from sauced spaghetti \n\n1. Use at least two cups dry rice.\n2. For a less expensive alternative to the saffron used to flavor and color Persian rice, try a pinch or two of dried turmeric.\n3. The best pot for tahdig is an inexpensive nonstick stockpot with a lid. Dutch ovens and other pots with tight-fitting lids are meant to keep moisture in the pot, whereas tahdig needs the steam to escape. If using a cast-iron Dutch oven, make sure it’s well seasoned and increase the amount of oil used and the cooking time.\n4. Turn the pot every 10 to 15 minutes while the rice is steaming for a more evenly browned tahdig.\n5. You can set a heat diffuser on top of a gas burner for more even heating of the tahdig.\n6. To help release the tahdig from the pot, you can fill a sink with about one inch of cold water and briefly set the entire pot in the cold water. Or set the pot on a wet kitchen towel.\nIf you love the crispy bits in fried rice, Persian tahdig is for you.