Tah chin with chicken and spinach

The Guardian - Feast - - Feast -

Soak Prep Cook Serves At least 2 hr 25 min 2 hr 45 min 6

90ml olive oil 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced

4 gar­lic cloves, peeled and crushed 2cm piece fresh gin­ger, peeled and grated

1½ tsp ground cumin 8 car­damom pods 2 tsp ground cin­na­mon

1kg bone­less and skin­less chicken thighs Salt and black pep­per 400ml chicken stock 35g dried bar­ber­ries (if you can’t get them, use chopped dried cran­ber­ries) 150g baby spinach 10g pars­ley leaves, roughly chopped, plus ex­tra leaves to gar­nish

10g co­rian­der leaves, roughly chopped 500g bas­mati rice, washed and soaked in plenty of cold wa­ter for 2-8 hours

1 whole egg, plus 2 yolks

250g Greek yo­ghurt ½ tsp saf­fron threads, lightly crushed and soaked in 50ml hot wa­ter for 45 min­utes

55g un­salted but­ter, cut into roughly 1½cm cubes

25g pis­ta­chios, roughly chopped

Tah chin is a glo­ri­ous savoury rice cake from Iran. The name refers to the lay­er­ing of meat and rice, which is then baked un­til it has a crisp base, called a

gravy. Mean­while, shred the chicken into large chunks. Stir the chicken meat back into the sauce, then stir in the spinach to wilt, fol­lowed by the herbs. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/ gas 6. Put the well-drained rice in a pot filled with boil­ing wa­ter and sim­mer for five min­utes, un­til just cooked. Drain, run un­der the cold tap to re­move any ex­cess starch, then leave to drain for at least 15 min­utes.

In a large bowl, com­bine the egg, egg yolks, yo­ghurt, saf­fron and its liq­uid, two ta­ble­spoons of olive oil, the re­main­ing half-tea­spoon of cin­na­mon and a tea­spoon and a half of salt, then gen­tly stir in the rice un­til well coated.

Heat the re­main­ing two ta­ble­spoons of oil in a large, 22cm non­stick saute pan and swirl it around the base and sides. Press two-thirds of the rice mix­ture evenly over the bot­tom of the pan and about 4cm up the sides. Fill with the chicken mix­ture and press down firmly, so the chicken is sur­rounded by rice. Top with the re­main­ing rice to en­case the chicken, again press­ing down firmly. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon, then scat­ter with 25g of the but­ter cubes. Wrap the pan tightly in foil and bake for 45 min­utes. Re­move the foil and bake for 35 min­utes more, or un­til the edges go golden, then leave to cool for 10 min­utes.

Put a large, round serv­ing plate on top of the pan. Hold­ing both the pan and the plate tightly, quickly and care­fully flip the whole thing over to re­lease the tah chin.

Melt the re­main­ing but­ter in a small fry­ing pan on a medium-high heat, add the re­main­ing bar­ber­ries and cook for 90 sec­onds, un­til plump. Pour over the rice, fol­lowed by the pis­ta­chios and pars­ley leaves, and serve warm.

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