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Minggu, 09 April 2017

Tah Cheen - Recipe

 Tah Cheen

Tah Cheen is a delicious, rice layer cake. It has layers of rice interspersed with chicken and onions and is anointed with a sauce made of saffron, egg yolks and yogurt. Everyone loved it. Then I read that some people also put potatoes in their Tah Cheen. That sounded even better! Rice and potatoes in one dish! There were no recipes given so I figured it out for myself. I can't say that this is the authentic Iranian method but I was quite pleased with my version.

I decided to make the dish to suit both rice lovers and potato lovers. The bottom would have the crisp rice crust and the top would be a layer of scalloped potatoes. It would be like bilingual handbooks with English on one side, reverse the book and the French appears. The diner could have the carb of choice facing up.

Here is how I made it:

Ingredients:

2 cups long grain or basmati rice soaked in water for a couple of hours
6 or 8 medium sized potatoes
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast (I used roast chicken breast)
5 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups of plain yogurt
1/2 a teaspoon of saffron
1/2 a cup of hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil
Butter

Scalloped potatoes on top

Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the rice in a small amount of water. Make the rice hard and dry. Let the rice cool down a bit.
  3. Fry the onions in a couple of tablespoons of oil until they are caramelized. Set aside the onions.
  4. For cooked chicken. There is no need to do anything at this stage.
  5. For fresh chicken: Heat a pan and add some oil. Sauté the chicken breast in the pan. Cover the pan and cook the chicken slowly. Cut the meat from the thigh bones and mix the meat together with the onions.
  6. Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin rounds with a mandoline. Soak the slices in cold water.
  7. Dissolve saffron in half a cup of hot water.
  8. Beat the yogurt until it is smooth and add the saffron, salt, pepper and egg-yolks to the yogurt. Mix well. I did this in a 4-cup measuring cup.
  9. Pour a few spoons of oil and drizzle some of the yogurt mix into a pot (Use a non-stick pot or line the pot with parchment paper and oil the paper - I didn't do it and the bottom stuck to the pan as you will see).
  10. Add a thin layer of rice and tamp it down with a spatula.
  11. Shred the cooked roast chicken meat directly into the pot. Spread it evenly over the rice and intersperse with the onions. Or, put a layer of the cooked chicken and onions on top of the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Dry the potato slices and form a thin layer over the chicken.
  13. Add another layer of rice. Tamp down the rice.
  14. Pour the yogurt mix on the rice and spread it evenly with a spatula. Repeat the layering until everything has been used. The last layer will be a thick layer of scalloped potatoes.
  15. Smooth over the potatoes and press it down with a spatula.
  16. Dot the top with butter. Cover the pot.
  17. Bake the Tah Cheen in the oven for about an hour and a half.
  18. Remove the lid and continue baking until a beautiful, brown crust forms.
  19. Let the dish cool down a bit and then place a platter on the top. Turn it over. Tap the pot in order to loosen the contents. The rice cake should fall on the dish in one piece. As this is the Potato Ho Down, do a double flip so that the scalloped potatoes are on top.
  20. Enjoy!

 Tah Cheen straight out of the oven.
 Layers of rice, chicken and scalloped potatoes

Notes: 
My cake refused to come out of the pan easily. The bottom layer was stuck to the pan. Because I didn't line the pan with parchment paper. The bottom rice layer had separatist inclinations and broke off from the whole. Also it had not formed a good crust.

Solution: I heated a large skillet and added some oil. I reassembled the broken pieces; I joined them like a jigsaw puzzle and pan fried the crust on low heat for about half an hour.

 Here are the results
Crispy Tah Cheen. Rice side up. Not exactly as planned but still very delicious.

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