Baked Chicken with Rice and Saffron Recipe

Baked Chicken with Rice and Saffron Recipe

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Yasmin Fahr

Baked Chicken with Rice

In Persian cuisine, this is traditionally a peasant dish made with lamb called 'tah cheen' because tah means “bottom” and cheen means “to layer"; and the dish is essentially layers of rice and meat. The bottom of the pan produces the delicious, flavorful and crispy layer of rice called tah-deeg that gives it the look of a golden brown cake. This recipe is made with boneless chicken, but fish, lamb or a whole chicken are other options. In the Persian tradition, tah cheen should be paired with yogurt, herbs and eaten immediately so that the tah-deeg does not become soggy.

As most Persians cooks do not use measurements or recipes because they develop their own during a lifetime of cooking, the cuisine is both challenging and rewarding for the novice cook. A blending of scribbled notes, directions, and tips from my parents and grandmother along with the cookbook A Taste of Persia by Najmieh Batmanglij produced this recipe for tah cheen.

Good luck and enjoy!


For the chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken roughly cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups of water

For the rice:

  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons oil, plus more for the rice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ½ cups plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron threads, dissolved in ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the chicken:
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot (you see streaks when you move the pan), add the onions and fry for about 10 minutes or until they are translucent. Add the chicken and sauté until slightly cooked (chicken should turn white on surface).

Then add the cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water. Cook until the meat is cooked through (the water will boil) and about 1/2 cup of liquid remains. Reserve the juice and set the meat and onion mixture aside to cool.

For the rice:
Wash the rice by rinsing it with lukewarm water several times. Then, in a large pot, boil 8 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of salt. When boiling, add the rice and cook for 6–10 minutes, gently stirring once or twice to loosen any grains stuck on the bottom. If any foam gathers on top, skim it off (it is remaining dirt from the rice).
At around that time, you should see a few grains come to the surface, which means the rice is ready. Try one grain to make sure it is cooked and the inside is not crunchy


Pour the rice into a colander and drain. Then pour a little cold water over the rice so that it doesn't stick together and remove any excess water by shaking it. Pour a good amount of oil on top of the rice while it sits in the sink until you see oil dripping through (a tip from my grandmother).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Oil the bottom of baking dish and place in the oven for a few moments.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the egg, then add the yogurt, 2 tablespoons oil, saffron water, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly for 1 minute. Add the cooked rice to the yogurt mixture and gently mix through.

Remove the baking dish from the oven, and add half of the rice-yogurt mixture to the bottom and sides of the dish. Pat it down firmly because this will make a thick layer of tah deeg. Place a layer of the chicken and onions over the rice, and then cover with the remaining rice-yogurt mixture and pour the reserved juice on top (a trick of my mother’s for extra flavor).

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for roughly 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours, until the bottom turns a deep golden brown.
When done, remove foil and loosen the sides of the pan with a knife. Holding a serving platter tightly over the dish, invert the two together (away from you) so that the tah deeg is facing up.

Serve immediately with yogurt and fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Aromatic Saffron Chicken with Coconut Rice

One-pot Aromatic Saffron Chicken and Coconut Rice with turmeric, coconut milk, peas, raisins and saffron threads &ndash A flavorful, unique fusion dinner recipe that is amazing for sharing or meal prepping.

While this recipe comes off as a dish that has a rich cultural background, its origin is simply my imagination.

Aromatic saffron chicken with coconut rice was simply born out of my craving for something big in flavor, with a counterbalance of salt, sweet, and cream.

You could say it is a magical amalgamation of Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai faire. A fusion recipe, if you will.

I hadn&rsquot thought about my &ldquostyle&rdquo of cooking until recently, but I have come to realize it is exactly meals such as this. Fresh, flavorful dishes that combine big aromatic flavors and often can&rsquot be pinned to any one type of cuisine but rather several.

While I absolutely LOVE authentic anything (Thai, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, you name it), I also enjoy me-ifying meals by swapping out ingredients that are difficult to find, figuring out ways of cutting down prep time without sacrificing flavor, and always injecting nutrients whenever possible.

So without further adieu, let&rsquos dive right into this amazing meal, which was nearly impossible for me to name but will surely make your taste buds swoon!

Crispy Chicken and Saffron Rice Skillet

Easy 1 pan meal of bone-in skin-on crispy chicken thighs cooked in a savory saffron rice. Flavorful, warm and ideal for a crisp fall weeknight dinner.

The temperatures here in California have dropped to about 65 degrees, which is about as frigid as I like it. It has cooled down so much that I now only sleep with my window half open, instead of all the way open. I’ve even busted out my Ugg boots. Well, actually they’re fUgg boots (fake Ugg boots). Have you guys tried the Costco brand ones? I swear, I cannot tell the difference! Actually, I can. Because Costco only charges $40 compared to Ugg charging $195. So I don’t have to have a heart attack when a little bit of water or olive oil spills on them. So they feel even comfier since I can really relax in them. Highly recommend.

So now that your feet are warm and toasty, let me show you how to make my brand new number 1 favorite meal for fall.

This chicken and saffron rice skillet is a-mazing. First of all, you must start cooking more chicken thighs. You must! Not only are they cheap cheap cheap (I got 3 lbs for $3 athankyou), but they have much more flavor than a chicken breast. And since you’re saving money by using chicken thighs, it’s ok to splurge a little on saffron. A little tip, Trader Joe’s just started carrying saffron at the best price I’ve seen in stores. You get a whopping .02oz for $5.99. Ok, well, maybe not whopping, but it’s all you need. Oh saffron, how can you be so delicious?

Start by heating up 1/2 tsp of olive oil in your biggest non-stick straight-sided oven-safe skillet. I’m in love with my 6 quart Calphalon pan, perfect for this meal. If you don’t have something big enough (roughly 13″ across and 2″ deep) just cook the chicken and prep the rice in any pan, then assemble the “skillet” in a 9吉″ baking dish. Will turn out just the same.

Cook the chicken thighs 4 at a time over high heat until they are nice and golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter to rest while you get the rice ready.

Discard all but 1 tsp fat from the pan. Add in the onions and cook until they just start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute until it is fragrant.

Next add 2 cups of white rice.

Now it’s time for the star ingredient…saffron! So red and beautiful.

Add in about a gram of saffron (I only had .7 grams since that’s the amount Trader Joe’s sells). Break it up in your fingers as you sprinkle it in to release the oils in the spice.

Then add in 1 cup of frozen peas.

And 1 tsp salt. Stir to combine. The saffron turns the broth into a beautiful deep golden color.

Put them skin side up. This is important! Otherwise, the skin won’t stay crispy.

Cook in a preheated 450 degree oven until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the chicken is cooked through, about 35 minutes.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving, then dig in!

Just wait until you hear the crunch from that crispy chicken. And the rice? Delicious. Oh. My. Yum. You are going to love this.

My husband loved this so much the first time I made it for him he gave me a kiss after his first bite even though his mouth was full, so I knew it was a winner.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 cup salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season one side of chicken breasts with half the cumin, half the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper arrange chicken breasts with seasoned sides down in the hot oil. Fry until chicken is lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes.

Season the top of each chicken breast with the remaining cumin, remaining garlic powder, salt, and black pepper flip chicken and cook until other side is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. If the skillet gets dry, pour in just enough juice from the salsa to keep it from burning.

Transfer chicken breasts to a 9x9-inch baking dish sprinkle with Mexican cheese blend. Loosen all the drippings from the skillet with a little more juice from the salsa and pour on top of chicken breasts. Spoon salsa over cheese layer.

Bake chicken breasts until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).


  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup water (for creamier rice, increase the water to 1 1/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (4 small or 2 large cut in half lengthwise for thinner pieces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

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Recipe Summary

  • 5 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (Optional)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) package yellow rice
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch poultry seasoning, or to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Bring water and chicken bouillon to a boil in a large skillet. Add chicken breasts and bell pepper simmer over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken and pour remaining broth into a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Stir rice, plus the included seasoning packet, and olive oil into broth. Arrange chicken breast over rice and season with black pepper and poultry seasoning.

Bake in the preheated oven until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork before serving.


Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 large palmfuls of salt (about ½ cup). While you’re waiting for the water to boil, place rice in a strainer or sieve and rinse with lukewarm water, swishing rice around with your hands to get rid of excess starch. Continue to rinse until water from rice runs clear.

Step 2

Add rice to pot and give it a few stirs to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice begins to rise to the top and is tender but still has a slight bite to it, 6–8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Step 3

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook barberries, stirring often, until plumped slightly and warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rose water, if using.

Step 4

Place rack in lower third of oven preheat to 400°. Combine saffron and 2 Tbsp. hot water in a large bowl. Let sit 10 minutes to allow saffron to steep and draw out as much color as possible. Mix in egg yolks, yogurt, ½ cup oil, and 2 tsp. salt. Scatter rice over yogurt mixture and gently toss to ensure every grain is coated.

Step 5

Coat a 10"-diameter glass pie dish with oil (glass lets you check on the color from underneath). Add half of rice mixture and use the palms of your hands or a measuring cup to gently pack and compact rice into dish. Scatter half of barberries over and top with remaining rice. Press down again, this time more firmly (this helps with unmolding).

Step 6

Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until rice on the bottom and around edges is a deep golden brown, 65–80 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes discard foil. Loosen the rice around the edges using the point of a knife. Place a large plate on top and invert rice onto plate like a cake. Scatter remaining barberries over top.

How would you rate Crunchy Baked Saffron Rice with Barberries (*Tachin*)?

Just made this and our family thought it was delicious. Had 7 people over for dinner so doubled recipe and made it in 2 dishes. One recipe would have been enough but now we have leftovers! Served it with grilled fish but tonite leftovers will be used with a Persian inspired quince and lamb braise. Definitely use saffron for this dish. It was so easy to get a crust on the rice which isn't always so easy with the other methods of making Tachin. And it came out of the glass dishes super easy. Added the golden raisins along with barberries as Andy did in his video. And you really should watch the video for details of the technique (like grinding saffron in mortar and pestle and then adding the hot liquid to steep).

Does anyone have any suggestions for replacing the egg yolks to make it vegan?

Saffron has been linked to several other potential health benefits, such as improved heart disease risk, blood sugar levels, eyesight, and memory. However, more studies are needed to draw stronger conclusions. زعفرانیک

It was surprisingly easier than expected and the flavor was delicious. Would definitely make again, another sure fire recipe from Bonappetit.com

First time trying and attempting this dish! Made it for my family and they loved it as much as I loved making it. I did however double the amount to serve 8 instead of 4 and found that I didn’t really have to use 6 egg yolks to double 4 did the job really well! With some grilled chicken on the side, all the flavors combined nicely. Thanks for the recipe!!

This looks so delicious, but I'm rationing eggs and dairy during the COVID 19 pandemic, so it'll probably be a while before I make it. Something to look forward to!

I followed the recipe exactly and found it to be too salty, but otherwise too bland. Next time I will reduce the salt and I think I will add chopped dates, chopped chicken, and maybe an additional spice. (Still trying to identify the best spice to add. Maybe sumac? zaɺtar? lemon zest? cumin?). Another option would be to reduce the amount of rice in the mixture.

I subbed dried cherries for the barberries and added toasted macadamia nuts. Really good! Next time, I will use cranberries b/c the cherries were black and I think cranberries would be prettier. I also may try to mix in the raisins, cranberries and nuts so that they are distributed throughout, and I'm going to try it with brown rice. The video was super helpful - watched it several times before attempting. And that Andy guy is fun to watch. thanks for a great recipe!

I used coconut cream mixed with lemon juice instead of yogurt (I know, I'm sorry but I really can't digest dairy) and it came out amazingly.

Very good recipe. Also, to the person who said "the saffron alone is $40." Really? 1 tsp of saffron threads is exactly .72 grams. 10 grams (14 servings) of Persian Saffron is $50. So, yes. it's an expensive spice however, it's under $4.00.

Wonderful, but even better with chicken. And how about with chicken with biryani flavorings? And the ultimate, with lamb biryani filling.

This is so delicious. The only reason I knocked off a star was because the amount of saffron would cost about $40 and that is just not reasonable. I use what comes in the package and that works. I would LOVE to use an entire teaspoon of saffron as it is my all time favorite spice but it is just too much money.

This was SO GOOD. It does call for a lot of saffron but it is an absolute requirement for the full experience of the dish. The flavor is complex and rich even though the only real seasoning besides salt is the saffron. I actually did not add the barberries, so for me it was just the saffron rice mixture. I split the rice mixture among a pie pan and 2 medium Pyrex containers, and it turned out great and allowed me get more of the delicious crust. Bake until you get the beautiful golden crust shown in the video I would not rely too much on the cooking time alone since ovens and baking dishes vary. Best eaten warm, but it's still delicious after a day or two.

Wow. SO Good. Thank you, Andy for making this dish so accessible / adaptable (I used golden raisins and CA dried apricots because I haven’t been to my fave Armenian grocery lately). This is such a perfect balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, umami (I had never really thought about it but saffron is soo ingrained as a special umami flavor in my brain). Thank you, thank you! Will make again and share with everyone!

This was time consuming the first time through. Bit came out great. I had all the ingredients before I started. You can cut back a bit on the saffron to 3/4 tsp. I added the barberry raisins on the top and pressing in before putting it in the oven. Andy throws them on after it’s cooked. Take care to not over cook the rice. The basmati long grain is fine. I cut back on the salt with no downside. I added three tsp of rose water but no real taste hit. Go to a Lebanese or Armenian market to find it. Bought the barberries on line. Sadaf brand for 3 Oz has enough for 1 cup. Before putting in the pan the rice was very soupy but that worked just fine. I have a convection oven but should have left it in for at least 65 minutes. 60 was just borderline but I would have preferred it even browner and crunchier on bottom. My wife LOVED it and we’ll make it for guests and parties now. The video was key.

How to make saffron chicken

Start by searing the chicken with a tablespoon of bloomed saffron. Now, that might seem unconventional to some as saffron is a delicate spice and could lose the aroma if it's added in the beginning of the recipe. But fear not, as this is not the stage in which we add all the saffron. I add only one tablespoon to give a color shock to the chicken and help it turn to that gorgeous golden color you see here.

Once the chicken legs are fully seared on both sides and have turned into a gorgeous golden color, transfer them onto a plate and discard the excess fat that has been rendered from the skin.

Heat some olive oil in the same pan and saute onion and peppers. Add in the spices and top with the chicken legs. Add in water and cook for about 40 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Now because we have already added some saffron to the chicken, they are going to smell and look very nice. Finally, add in the rest of the bloomed saffron and cook for another ten minutes. This is for the saffron to blend into the dish. After ten minutes, the golden chicken is ready to serve with you side dish of choice.

Why this saffron rice?

This saffron rice is healthy for you because:

  • It has saffron that has so many chemicals that works as antioxidant like beta-carotene and lycopene.
  • The main active compound called α-crocin which give the saffron it’s distinctive yellow reddish golden color, has a role as antioxidant. And can improves memory , learning and protecting brain cells too. That’s why in this study they believed it may has great role for prevention or treatment for Alzheimer disease.
  • It has spices like turmeric that has ant-inflammatory effects. Studies shows it’s effect on colon diseases, Alzheimer, arthritis, and improving liver functions, and it could boostmemory too .
  • It has nuts like pistachio, the different colors of green and purple in pistachio are due to antioxidants content like polyphenols. They may make youlive longer. and improve the lipid profile

This recipe is inspired by the one in bon appetite magazine.