• The crunchy edges and layers of a well-cooked dish are very satisfying to consume. (Benito Martin)Source: Benito Martin

This is a riff on the traditional Persian rice dish called tahdig, which is tinged golden from saffron and cooked on the stovetop to develop a crusty rice base. 






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (34 votes)

If you love the crunch of toasted rice, then this is for you. Our version is a mix of brown rice, lentils and wild rice, boosted with pistach­­ios and tart sour cherries and topped with pomegranate seeds. Loaded with complex carbs, the addition of lentils makes this meal a complete protein. This is a great dish to eat before a big race or workout.


  • 180 g (1 cup) long-grain brown rice, rinsed
  • 50 g (¼ cup) green lentils, rinsed
  • 40 g (¼ cup) wild rice (see Tips), rinsed
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water
  • 10 strands saffron
  • 2 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 30 g ghee (see Tips)
  • 1 large pinch sea salt flakes
  • 30 g (¼ cup) pistachio kernels, halved lengthways
  • 40 g (¼ cup) sour dried cherries, halved
  • ½ small bunch dill, finely chopped (some sprigs reserved for garnish)
  • 50 g (¼ cup) pomegranate seeds (about ½ small) 
  • thick natural yoghurt, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time: 1 hour

  1. Soak the rice. Combine the brown rice, lentils, wild rice and water in a large heavy-based saucepan and leave to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Add the spices. Add the saffron and cardamom to the rice mixture and stir to distribute evenly.
  3. Cook the rice. Place the pan over medium heat, cover with a lid, slightly ajar, and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to as low as possible and until all of the water has evaporated and the rice and lentils are just al dente (about 20 minutes) - you want to make sure the rice doesn’t catch on the base.
  4. Form the rice crust. Heat the ghee in a 27 cm diameter non-stick frying pan until melted and swirl to cover the base and the sides of the pan well. Scoop the rice mixture into the frying pan, season with the salt and cook, uncovered, over medium heat until a nicely golden and crisp crust forms on the base (about 15 minutes). Lift up some of the rice in the centre to check - you don’t want it to be burnt. Cover again with the lid, slightly ajar, and continue cooking for 15 minutes - spatula, the base should be nicely golden and crisp. 
  5. Let the rice get fluffy. Remove from the heat. Remove the lid and wrap it in a tea towel. [video op] Scatter over the pistachios and dried cherries. Place the tea towel-wrapped lid back on the pan tightly and leave to steam for 10 minutes for the rice to steam.
  6. Turn out the rice. Place a large plate over the top of the pan and quickly but carefully flip the pan. Tap the base of the pan to loosen the rice and leave for 10 seconds or so to let the rice settle onto the plate. Carefully lift off the pan. 
  7. Serve. Loosely break up the crusty rice and scatter over the dill and pomegranate seeds.



• Wild rice is available from the health food aisle of supermarkets or from health food stores. It is a black long kernel with a nutty, earthy flavour.

• Ghee is butter that has had the milk solids, which means it has a higher smoking point so you can cook things in it without burning them. Ghee adds a lovely buttery flavour to this dish. If you don’t have ghee, you can melt one part cooking oil with one part butter, or replace completely with oil. You can make your own ghee or buy ghee from the refrigerated section of health food stores or from Indian grocers.


Photography by Benito Martin, styling by Lynsey Fryers, food preparation by O Tama Carey and creative concept by Belinda So.


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