Dissolve the ground saffron in a few tbsp of freshly boiled water. Keep it in a warm place until you use it later.
Cut the lamb shoulder or leg into approx. 1 inch small cubes. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan and fry the lamb cubes from each side until golden brown. Remove them from the pan.
Finely chop the onions and garlic. Fry the onions in the same pan, in the same oil you fried the meat in over medium heat. After about 5 minutes add in the garlic as well and fry both together for another 3 minutes or so. The onions should be golden brown.
Return the fried meat to the pan and add 250 ml (1 cup) of freshly boiled water to it. Add the turmeric and black pepper, put on the lid and put let it simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. Season with salt towards the end.
Once the meat has been cooking for half an hour, you can start pre-boiling the rice. Wash the rice in a bowl with water by just moving it around with your hand. Then rinse the water and repeat these steps a few times.
Bring 12 cups of water to boil in a pan. Dissolve 1/8 cup of salt in it (no worries, any excess salt will be washed off later but trust me without this amount of salt your rice will taste bland). Add the rice, stir it well and allow the water to boil again.
Let the rice pre-cook for a few minutes. The cooking time depends on the rice you are using. Remove a rice corn from the pan after about 3 minutes and split it with your fingernail. If the outside is cooked but the centre of the rice corn is still firm, it is pre-cooked and can be drained and rinsed now. Think of it as half cooked pasta for a pasta bake. It might take anything between 3 to 7 minutes for your rice to get to that point. I used Tilda basmati rice and 3 minutes were enough.
Drain the rice in a fine colander and rinse it with cold water. Stir it with a spoon while you rinse it to make sure that the excess salt washes off and that it cools down for the next step.
To be on the save side select a coated pan. I used a 16cm (6.3″) diameter pan for a small, high Tahchin but you can also use a larger pan for a shallower Tahchin. Line it in with 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure not only the bottom but also the sides of the pan are oiled.
In a bowl combine the eggs with the yogurt, dissolved saffron, and a little salt. Add the rice to it and stir it well until its turned evenly yellow.
Add half of the rice to the pan, then spread the meat out evenly on top of it. Don’t throw away the meat stew, you can later serve it as a sauce for the Tahchin. Add the other half of the rice and flatten the surface evenly without applying pressure. Just make sure there is at least 1 inch of space from the surface of the rice to the edge of your pan because the rice will expand as it fully cooks.
First layer of rice
Layer of meat/chicken/veg
Top layer of rice
If you are preparing a small Tahchin for 4 people like I did, you will probably only have two layers of rice with one layer of meat in between. If you are doubling the ingredients to make a larger Tahchin though, you can make more layers to make sure the meat is evenly distributed throughout the Tahchin.
Top off the rice with 1 tbsp melted butter and put it over medium to high heat. Once you see steam rising from the rice, put on the lid and reduce the temperature to low. Let the Tahchin cook for 1h.
Wash the barberries and briefly fry them in 1 tbsp butter with 2 tsp sugar. This shouldn’t take longer than 10 seconds, otherwise the barberries will burn.
Put on some oven gloves, remove the lid from the pan with the Tahchin and put a serving plate upside down in its place. Carefully flip the pan around and remove it.
Garnish your Tahchin with the fried barberries and slivered pistachios. Serve it with the stew and yogurt. Enjoy!
This time I made Tahchin-e Goosht (with lamb filling) but you can use this recipe to make any type of Tahchin you like. Simply replace the meat with chicken, if you prefer that. I recommend chicken legs because they are more juicy than breasts.
If you want to make a veggie or plain Tahchin it will take you about 1h less, because you simply need to fry your veg of choice before layering your Tahchin. Great veg to use for a vegetarian Tahchin are spinach and aubergine/eggplant for example. A plain Tahchin without filling makes a delicious side dish for any Persian stew.