Traditionally, rice (berenj in Farsi, before it is cooked) was most prevalent as a major staple item in the rice growing region of northern Iran, and the homes of the wealthy, while in the rest of the country, bread was the dominant staple. The varieties of rice most valued in Persian cuisine are prized for their aroma, taste and elongation during cooking. There are three primary methods of cooking rice in Iran.
Polo/chelo: Rice is prepared by soaking in salted water for hours, strained and immediately put in a large pot of boiling water. When tested and the center no longer crunches, it is drained in a colander and put back in an oiled pot to be steamed. This method results in exceptionally fluffy rice with the rice grain elongated, separated and not sticky. A golden rice crust is created at the bottom of the pot called tah-dig meaning, ‘bottom of the pot’.
Tah-dig can be plain rice or lining the bottom of the pot with lavash or slices of raw potatoes. There are other creative alternatives which will be introduced in my recipes. There are also mixed rice/polos, to which meat, vegetable, nuts and/or fruits are sometimes added in layers or completely mixed with the polo and then steamed. To steam the polo, heat is reduced and a piece of thick cloth, towel, or paper towel is placed on the top of the pot before putting on the lid, to seal tightly and absorb extra steam.
Kateh: Rice is cooked until the water is absorbed completely. Most common method used in the West and Pacific Rim.
Dami: Rice is cooked almost the same as Kateh, but at the start, ingredients such as grains and beans, which can be cooked thoroughly with rice, are added.
I mainly use the polo method in my cooking/recipes. To make Persian rice, use basmati grade of rice.
Long grain American or Asian rice do not need to be soaked nor will they make good Persian-style rice dish.
Persian Rice • Polo • پلوسفید
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
To soak the rice
• 2 cups basmati rice
• 1 Tbsp salt
◊ Some imported rice brands may contain non-rice small particles which must be scrutinized and removed by hand before washing. Also, some brands may need to be washed with extra agitation until water is clear. Put the rice in a large enough bowl with plenty of water and rub the rice between two hands to scrape off any powdery substance. Drain in a fine-meshed colander, rinse the rice until clear water runs through.
◊ Put the washed rice in a bowl, add salt, cover with water level 5 cm/ 2″ above the rice and set aside for more than an hour. This can be done in advance and soaked for 3+ hours, or overnight.
To boil the rice
◊ Have a colander ready in your sink, one with fine-mesh or with very small holes, and with legs, so that it doesn’t touch the sink bottom.
◊ In a non-stick pot (9 cups capacity) bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Drain water from the soaked rice and add to the boiling water. Keep your attention on the pot or else the foam from the boiling rice may overflow. When it begins to foam up, scoop the foam and discard.
◊ As the rice starts to boil briskly, lower the heat to medium-high and occasionally, gently stir the rice in a circular motion. At this point, taste the boiling water (carefully) to insure the salt content is to your taste. Add salt if needed.
◊ In a few minutes, after rice begins bubbling like a fountain, it boils slower/thicker.
Test/bite a grain to check its hardness. Do this repeatedly, as timing is very important. As soon as there is no more hardness/crunch in the center of the rice (don’t let it get completely soft), drain rice in colander waiting in sink. It is better for rice to be a tad under-cooked than over-cooked. Rice should not sit in the colander more than a minute (it will continue cooking and be sticky soft). At this point, you must act quickly.
To steam the rice:
• 4 ~ 6 Tbsp vegetable oil needed
◊ Rinse the non-stick pot used for boiling… 
– Choices of tah-dig –
♦ For plain tah-dig: To a non-stick pot add 4 ~ 6 Tbsp oil and add a few drops of saffron diluted in hot water. Rotate/swirl the pot so it will spread in the bottom before spatula in the rice. Go to 
If making tah-dig other than plain tah-dig, have the ingredient/mixture for the tah-dig ready in advance. Depending on the diameter of the pot, increase the oil poured into the bottom of the pot by 1.5x or 2x. Put on heat just a little lower than called for plain rice tah-dig.
♦ For potato tah-dig: After peeling the (russet) potato(s), slice them at least 1.5 cm/ 5/8″ thick, rinse and drain well. To a non-stick pot, add 4 ~ 6 Tbsp oil (or more, for the oil to fill half way as high as potato slices). In one layer, line the slices at the bottom of the pot. Go to  (Steam on heat half way between medium-low and low.)
♦ For bread tah-dig: This tah-dig is recommended for mixed rice, especially ones with sweet ingredients, to avoid fast burning of sugar. To a non-stick pot, dd 4~ 6 Tbsp oil, use one layer of flour-tortilla or lavash to cover the entire bottom of the pot. Got to  (Steam on heat half way between medium-low and low.)
♦ For yogurt tah-dig:
• 1 cup whole yogurt
• 2 egg yolks
• pinch (1/16 tsp) ground saffron
• 1/8 tsp salt
◊ In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork, add yogurt, saffron and salt, mix well and set aside.
Adjust the recipe quantity to the amount of rice being cooked. Dish out ¼ of boiled rice to combine with the yogurt mix. Put 6 Tbsp oil at the bottom of a non-stick pot and add rice-yogurt mixture and flatten. Go to 
 To continue with assembly of rice…
◊ Gently, a spatula at a time, put the boiled/drained rice in the pot. Poke a few holes into the rice.
◊ Pour 2 ~ 3 Tbsp of oil evenly over the rice in the pot.
◊ Cover the pot with 1 ~ 2 layers of paper towel and put the lid on tightly. On medium-low heat (or specified for each tah-dig type), steam for 45 minutes.
◊ If desired to serve with the tah-tig on the top, right out of the pot intact: Choose a deep serving dish at least 5 cm/ 2″ wider than the pot on each side.
◊ Invert the serving dish over the pot and flip. Unmold the rice and lift the pot.
– or –
◊ Dish out the rice, a spatula at a time and sprinkle on the serving dish/platter  (keeping the tah-dig intact at the bottom of the pot). Loosen and dish out the tah-dig with wooden or non-stick, pot-safe spatula and serve on the side of the rice or in a different dish.
 To garnish the rice with saffron:
• smidgen ground saffron
• 2 Tbsp hot water
• 1 Tbs softened butter
◊ It would be preferable to make the saffron ready while the rice is steaming. In a medium-small bowl, add the saffron and hot water and let it sit for ten minutes minutes or more.
◊ Add the butter and have it ready for when the cooked rice is ready to be dished out.
◊ Add the first spatula of the rice to the saffron bowl and mix well. When the rest of the rice is dished onto the serving platter, spread/garnish the saffron rice over the white rice. Some decorate/design the white rice with the saffron rice.