Persian Rice Recipe | Berenje Aabkesh | ifotitfrommymaman.com
Persian Rice

Persian Rice Aabkesh Style

Whenever I talk to someone about Persian food, the first thing they mention is the rice: “How does it get so light and fluffy?” The rice they are referring to is prepared with the aabkesh method. Aabkesh simply means colander or strainer.

I receive many questions about how this rice cooking method works, and so in this post I explain it step by step. It’s not as difficult as you might think!

If you don’t mind wether your rice is light and airy, and prefer a quicker method, I recommend you prepare your rice Kateh style. It’s even easier, a little quicker, and more nutrients remain in the rice, because they don’t get rinsed off of it.

However if you want to impress your friends with gorgeous, airy saffron rice, read on.

Would you like to learn how to master this and 11 other classic Persian dishes from the comfort of your own home? Check out my Persian Classics Cooking Course, in which I guide you through each dish in bitesized step-by-step videos. I explain which equipment is helpful when it comes to Persian cooking and walk you through the special ingredients, that are commonly used in Persian cuisine.

Persian Rice Recipe

Ingredients (serving 6)

4 cups basmati rice (700g)

2 tbsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable oil (+ more if desired)

1/8 tsp saffron

Method

Parboil the rice

Bring a large pan of water to boil and dissolve all of the salt in it. Don’t worry, you will rinse most of the salt off later. Trust me, if you use any less your rice will taste bland.

Wash the rice in a bowl by adding cool water to it, moving it around with your hand, draining the water, and repeating this process 3 to 4 times.

Add the rice to the pan and keep the water boiling. Let it pre-cook until the rice corns are soft on the outside but still have bite in the centre. How long this process takes depends on your rice. I’m using Tilda basmati rice and it only takes 5 minutes for the rice to cook to this stage. It might take anything from 3 to 7 minutes.

Drain and rinse the rice with cool water

Once your rice is parboiled, drain it in a strainer and immediately rinse it with cold water to interrupt the cooking process and wash off any excess salt.

Drain and rinse the rice with cool water

Transfer the rice to the pan

Put a coated pan over medium heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with the vegetable oil. Add 1 tbsp of water to it and give it a quick shake. Then add the rice to it in a slight heap shape.

Poke a few holes through the rice to the bottom of the pan using the back of a wooden spoon. This, along with the heap shape, will help the water that’s still in the rice, evaporate.

Preparing Persian Aabkesh Rice

If desired, you can sprinkle more vegetable oil or melted ghee or butter over the rice now. Combining it with a few tbsp of warm water will help distribute it evenly. Simply pour it over the rice.

Let the Persian rice steam

Once you see steam rising from the pan, cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel, firmly press it on the pan and reduce the heat. Let the rice steam over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes. 

Cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel and firmly close the pan with it.

Now you can prepare the saffron by combining it with a few tbsp freshly boiled water in a glass. Set it aside in a warm place (near the pan of rice for example) until the rice is ready to serve.

After 45 min to 1 hour you can touch the outside of the pan with a wet kitchen towel. If it makes a sound like ‘tsss’ your rice is done.

Serve and decorate the rice

You can submerge the bottom of the pan in a sink filled with cold water to make the rice and tadig come off easily. Just a fair warning, this might not be the best practice if using expensive coated pans. If you have a good quality pan, the rice shouldn’t stick and if you have a less valuable pan, you might as well risk it – at least that’s what I’ve been doing and the coating is still intact.

Transfer a small part of the rice into a bowl and combine it with the saffron water until the rice is evenly yellow. Arrange the saffron rice on top of the white rice. You can serve the tadig (crispy bits) separately. 

Persian Saffron Rice | Berenje Aabkesh | igotitfrommymaman.com

5 from 1 vote
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Persian Rice Aabkesh Style

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Persian
Keyword aabkesh rice, Persian rice, saffron rice
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 4 cups basmati rice (700g)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil + extra if desired
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp saffron

Instructions

Parboil the rice

  1. Bring a large pan of water to boil and dissolve all of the salt in it. Don’t worry, you will rinse most of the salt off later. Trust me, if you use any less your rice will taste bland.

  2. Wash the rice in a bowl by adding cool water to it, moving it around with your hand, draining the water, and repeating this process 3 to 4 times.

  3. Add the rice to the pan and keep the water boiling. Let it pre-cook until the rice corns are soft on the outside but still have bite in the centre. How long this process takes depends on your rice. I’m using Tilda basmati rice and it only takes 5 minutes for the rice to cook to this stage. It might take anything from 3 to 7 minutes.

Drain and rinse the rice with cool water

  1. Once your rice is parboiled, drain it in a strainer and immediately rinse it with cold water to interrupt the cooking process and wash off any excess salt.

Transfer the rice to the pan

  1. Put a coated pan over medium heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with the vegetable oil. Add 1 tbsp of water to it and give it a quick shake. Then add the rice to it in a slight heap shape. 

  2. Poke a few holes through the rice to the bottom of the pan using the back of a wooden spoon. This, along with the heap shape, will help the water that’s still in the rice, evaporate.

  3. If desired, you can sprinkle more vegetable oil or melted ghee or butter over the rice now. Combining it with a few tbsp of warm water will help distribute it evenly. Simply pour it over the rice.

Let the Persian rice steam

  1. Once you see steam rising from the pan, cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel, firmly press it on the pan and reduce the heat. Let the rice steam over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes. 

  2. Now you can prepare the saffron by combining it with a few tbsp freshly boiled water in a glass. Set it aside in a warm place (near the pan of rice for example) until the rice is ready to serve.

  3. After 45 min to 1 hour you can touch the outside of the pan with a wet kitchen towel. If it makes a sound like ‘tsss’ your rice is done.

Serve and decorate the rice

  1. You can submerge the bottom of the pan in a sink filled with cold water to make the rice and tadig come off easily. Just a fair warning, this might not be the best practice if using expensive coated pans. If you have a good quality pan, the rice shouldn’t stick and if you have a less valuable pan, you might as well risk it – at least that’s what I’ve been doing and the coating is still intact.

  2. Transfer a small part of the rice into a bowl and combine it with the saffron water until it's evenly yellow. Arrange the saffron rice on top of the white rice. You can serve the tahdig (crispy bits) separately. 

  3. Serve the rice with your favourite Persian stew. You can find all them here.

I hope you enjoyed this little crash course on Persian rice! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I’m always happy to help! I’d love to see your Persian rice! Feel free to tag me with @igotitfrommymaman on Facebook or Insta so I can take a look and give you a thumbs up!

Wanna save this recipe for later? You can print out the printable version above!

Now that you know how to make beautiful Persian rice you’re wondering what to serve it with? Here are my Persian classics!

Do you wanna learn more about Persian cooking? Sign up to Maman’s recipe mail so you will get notified of new recipes on the blog.

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your meal!

6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Any tips on tahdig with this method? I followed this recipe and the rice came out perfectly but the tahdig didn’t form. I can only really get it with kateh but I can’t figure it out with abkesh style without adding yogurt.

    1. Hi Nazanin, did you let the rice steam 45 or 60 minutes? If you left it 45 minutes, you can try 60 next time. If you already did that, you can try increasing the temperature slightly next time. Adding a generous amount of oil to the bottom of the pot may also help, if you haven’t done that already. Tahdig can be really tricky, mine still turns out too pale or burnt from time to time. It depends on so many factors – the stove, pot, temperature, etc. But it sounds like in your case it can be easily fixed with a higher temp and/or longer steaming time. Please let me know how it goes and if I can help with anything else.

      1. Thank you Hami! I will try a longer time. I have a gas stove so it’s tricky, I find myself constantly adding water because it gets very hot. I’ve been using a heat diffuser lately and that helps a lot!

        1. Great! You don’t add water to the rice though, do you? Because if you did, that would likely be the reason for the tahdig not forming. Once the lid is on and the temperature is reduced, don’t take the lid off.
          Once you get the hang of it, gas stoves are the best in my opinion. You can get precisely the temperature you want. For low temperatures I usually dial in the opposite direction than what it says next to the dial (I think it’s anti-clockwise with most stoves). This way you can get the flame even lower than low, if necessary.

  2. I did, maybe that’s why! But the rice looked so dry. I’ll try it with a higher initial temperature and after it steams and the lid goes on I’ll try it lower and for 60 minutes. I use Ahu Barreh rice.

    1. I bet that’s the reason. If you don’t remove the lid, there will be enough steam in the pot (coming from the parboiled rice) to fully cook the rice. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

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