Tah-dig and yogurt marinated shish-kabobs

I don’t own a rice cooker because I just do not eat enough rice for it to seem like a smart buy. So I always cook my rice in a sauce pot on the stove. This is normally not a problem, but sometimes I forget to stir it and it burns a bit on the bottom. It’s a pain to clean, but I’m never particularly upset because there is something about that crunchy rice on the bottom that I really enjoy. Imagine my excitement when I learned about tah-dig, a Persian dish that literally means “bottom of the pot.” This dish started as the very same crunchy rice at the bottom of the pot that I already love, but has become a dish all on its own. I made a very basic version of tah-dig for my first try, but it is often made with saffron as well as salt and yogurt. I will have to figure out how to make it with the yogurt next. This recipe is the result of my reading about half a dozen different recipes I found online. The two sites I found most useful were: Persian Rice with Golden Crust on Epicurious and Persian Crunchy Rice {Polo Tahdig} by PersianFoodie.

As much as I loved the idea of this crunchy rice dish, I knew I couldn’t eat it alone. So I came up with a yogurt marinade/dip and cooked chicken and vegetable shish-kabobs to serve with the rice. The dish turned out really well, although I definitely need to double the marinade next time so I have more sauce for the serving the dish.

TAH-DIG

(4 servings)
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
Water
salt
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, depending on the size of your pan

1)      Add rice to a medium mixing bowl (about the size of a 4-cup measuring cup works fine) and fill with warm tap water. Let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring a little, then carefully drain off water. Repeat once or twice more.

2)      In a medium sized fry pan with a tight fitting lid, add rice and 4-6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 7 minutes.

3)      Drain rice and water from the pan, reserving about ½ a cup of the water, and coat the pan well with olive oil.  Reduce heat to low, medium-low, return rice to pan, add salt to taste, and spread out evenly. Add ¼ cup of the boiling water to the pan.

4)      Take a clean kitchen towel, and wrap the lid in the towel, pulling the edges of the towel up towards the lid handle. Place carefully on the pan. The towel helps seal in the moisture, allowing the rice to steam while cooking.

5)      Cook over the low heat for about 30 minutes. Do not stir, otherwise the crust will not form.  Quarter and serve.

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kabobs

Marinade

1 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon cumin
Pinch of saffron threads
½ teaspoon dried cilantro
Salt and pepper
2 large garlic cloves
1 small onion (about ½ chopped)

Kabobs
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 small cucumbers (the smaller the cucumber, the few seeds)

1)      In a small food processor, add all of the marinade ingredients and pulse until well mixed and the onion is finely minced in the yogurt. Set aside half a cup for dipping/drizzling on the finished kabobs. (As I mentioned above, doubling the recipe and setting aside even as much as a cup and a half might be worth it)

2)      Cut chicken in to 1 inch cubes, about the size of the cherry tomatoes. Place with the marinade in a gallon food storage bag that zips close. Using your hands mix the chicken and marinade together and let sit for at least 30 minutes. I left mine overnight, almost 24 hours and occasionally squeezed the bag to cover all the chicken.

3)      Pre-heat grill.

4)      Cut cucumbers into about 1 inch chunks. Skewer chicken, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers until none are left.

5)      Carefully place kabobs on grill and cover. Turn occasionally until meat is cooked through.

6)      Serve with tah-dig or other rice dish and drizzle with the unused marinade.

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