Tachin Joojeh is a Persian chicken and rice casserole with caramelized onions. The casserole is cooked upside down. When it's flipped over, the bottom layer, with its beautiful golden crust, becomes the top.
Soon after I got married - more than 20 years ago - a friend gave me a cookbook about Sephardic cooking. I remember thinking the recipes were strange and intriguing. I hadn't thought about that book in years - maybe even decades. It suddenly popped into my mind a few days ago, when I was researching recipe ideas for "Panning the Globe".
I was pretty sure I'd never find it in my house, but I did. It still had yellow post-it notes marking the recipes that had interested me way back when: "Sfongo": Turkish baked spinach and potato casserole, 'Khoresht Zardaloo": Veal and Apricot Stew from Iran, "Kadoo Bichak": Baked Pumpkin and Onion Dumplings from Uzbekistan,"Cous Cous Judgja" from Morocco, and Tachin Joojeh from Iran. It made me smile to be reminded that this journey I'm on with my blog, to explore the exciting food and flavors of unknown countries, started a long time ago.
The term "Sephardic" refers to Jews who were expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century because they refused to convert to Christianity. It is estimated that 100,000 Jews left Spain and Portugal at this time, and settled in North Africa, Greece, and throughout the Middle East (then the Ottoman Empire).
I'm noticing a pattern in my research that immigration and cultural diversity leads to wonderful, interesting recipes.
Tachin Joojeh get's its delicious flavor and beautiful yellow color from saffron. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice. Luckily a little saffron goes a long way.
Saffron is made from the stigmas of little purple crocus flowers. Each flower has only three stigmas. They are delicate and must be harvested by hand. It takes 450 to 500 stigmas to make two tablespoons of saffron threads.
Saffron is frequently used in Persian cuisine and Iran is one of the world's largest producers of the spice.
Looking back to my newlywed days, I remember making "Tachin Joojeh". My husband and I liked the name, but even more compelling was the description of the rice, egg and yogurt layer which forms "a firm crust at the bottom of the casserole".
When you flip your Tachin Joojeh onto a platter and lift the casserole dish off, you will probably stand back and sigh, as I did, admiring the firm brown and yellow crust and the juicy chicken and onions and steamed rice layers that descend beneath it.
And here's how it looks if you use a rounded bowl-type casserole.
Many countries have wonderful chicken and rice casseroles. Some of my favorites are Indian Biryani, Spanish Arroz Con Pollo, and Jollof Rice from Ghana. Tachin Joojeh is at the top of my list.
Here's the recipe for Tachin Joojeh: Persian Layered Chicken and Rice with Yogurt. If you make this, I hope you'll come back to leave a review and let me know what you think!
Persian Layered Chicken and Rice with Yogurt (Tachin Joojeh)
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 mins
- Yield: 6 1x
A festive chicken and rice casserole with caramelized onions. Worthy of a special occasion. Serve with garlicky yogurt sauce on the side.
- Yogurt Sauce
- 2 cups plain yogurt, whole milk or low-fat
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried crumbled mint or basil to sprinkle on top (optional)
- Chicken and Onions
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 2 large onions, halved and sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided, see instructions)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (divided, see instructions)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2-quart glass (see-through) casserole
- 2 cups long grain Basmati rice, swished with water and drained 6 or 7 times
- 2 egg yolks (whites are not needed for this recipe)
- ¾ cup plain whole milk yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads crushed with ¼ teaspoon salt with a mortar and pestle or with the curved back of a fork.
- 2 teaspoons salt (divided - see instructions)
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 tablespoons barberries (or substitute currants)
- some olive oil to sauté the barberries
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Yogurt Sauce In a medium bowl mix yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Sprinkle mint or basil on top (optional) Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
- Chicken and onions Season chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add chicken - it should sizzle - and cook 6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink. (It will be golden brown on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside) Remove from heat, cut into bite-sized cubes and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet, add onions, ½ teaspoon salt, turmeric and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6-7 minutes over medium heat until onions soften and turn golden brown. Mix with cubed chicken and set aside.
- Tachin: step one Put rinsed rice and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook, covered, for 7 minutes. Pour into a strainer, drain, rinse with cold water to stop cooking and set aside.
- Tachin: step two Whisk egg yolks, yogurt, saffron, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl. Add half the cooked, drained rice, mix thoroughly and set aside.
- Tachin: step three Swirl melted butter and olive oil in the 2-quart casserole to coat bottom and sides. Add yogurt & rice mixture and smooth it out into an even layer with the back of a spoon. Add chicken and onion mixture next, making an even layer. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt to the remaining plain white rice, stir to combine and add to top of casserole, pressing it down gently. Cover casserole with lid or a double layer of foil and bake in the lower third of preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a light brown crust forms on the bottom. Remove from oven. Carefully flip casserole upside down onto a platter. Cover the top with a clean dish cloth while you give the Barberries a 1 minute stir in a frying pan with a bit of oil. Toss them on top of the Tachin to garnish. Cut Tachin into six servings and enjoy with yogurt sauce on the side.
[Originally published November 2012. Updated September 2018 with a video, some new photos, added nutritional information, a few tweaks to the written post and double the onion in the recipe.]
Nutrition Information shown is an estimate calculated by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 10 mins
- Category: Festive Main Course
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: Iranian
Keywords: Chicken, Rice, Casserole, Recipe
hi! where is the original recipe from? you mentioned it's from a book that was given to you by someone else, then in your recipe the credit line links simply to your own biography.
could you share the credit/source for the recipe? 🙂 thanks
Here's the link to the cookbook with the original recipe: https://amzn.to/3GmVaVV
I tried the recipe because I love all Middle Eastern food.. This recipe is very bland. The middle eastern recipes I have eaten are always flavorful. After making it, I sauteed some harissa and ras al hanout and then put in all the chicken rice mix to mix it up.
I'm sorry you were disappointed by the flavors of this dish Molly. By the way, this is not a Middle Eastern dish. It's an Iranian dish and the featured spice here is Saffron, which has a mild but wonderful flavor that can be overpowered by other spices. But the most important thing is that you enjoy the final dish, so I'm glad you were able to adjust the flavors to your liking.
I’ve made this vegan & it’s great… I substituted
with Gardein Chicken Strips & used Kite Hill Plain Yogurt & “Just Egg “- 6 tablespoons for the main dish.
You need to bake a 1/2 hour longer to get the crispy rice crust underneath.
Brought back great memories!
Thank you !
I made this and it was a big hit in our house! Delicious flavors and loved the colors too. My flip was a little weak but I did get the crust for the most part. I’ll try cooking it for a little longer next time too. I might even be inspired to buy a round casserole dish as I liked the way yours looked. Oh, and since I had no currants, I used raisins and they worked fine. Thanks!
Awesome recipe and fairly easy to make . Guests were very impressed!
Served w lamb shanks and salad perfect meal for special guests.
Thank you for this recipe
For people who want a vegetarian or kosher (not mixing dairy and meat) version you can substitute cauliflower flowerettes in place of chicken-- simply toss the cauliflower pieces in an egg wash then sprinkle with flour and saute them the same as directed for chicken. A good tip for the flip is to finish cooking and let it sit for 5 minutes then put your platter on top, steady it with your hand for the flip then again let sit for about 5 minutes with the casserole dish in place until it drops on it's own. Works like a charm! I just love your website btw, its loaded with recipes from my lifetime travels that are simplified (getting recipes from grannies that speak a different language results in multiple fails until you get it right, lol) and your directions give me creative thoughts how to turn these complicated dishes into quick and easy dishes suitable for everyday and yet elegant enough to parade out at dinner parties. Stellar! Thank you!
Thanks for this vegetarian version Kathryn - I can't wait to try it. And I can so relate to what you say about recipes from grannies. I have a big folder of my maternal grandmother's recipes and they are vague! I really appreciate your detailed note and kind words about the blog 🙂 Happy Cooking!
Have you tried this with any yogurt substitute? Something like cashew yogurt for a non-dairy option?
Hi Shira, no, I haven't tried this recipe with any dairy substitutes. I would love to know if it can be done. I did some quick googling and found a few recipes using plant-based yogurt for Tachin rice so I know it's been attempted. If you do try this, will you let me know how it goes?
Could you please just give an actual measurement for how much water goes into the rice? I tried to do 2in but I guess I messed up because it came out really liquidy and gummy.
I'm so sorry your rice was gummy Emily - that must have been a big disappointment. You can follow the cooking instructions on your rice package. Usually they say to add 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice, so 4 cups of water for the 2 cups of rice in this recipe. The idea is to cook the rice for half the recommended time so that it finishes cooking in the oven. Also, be sure to rinse the rice well before you boil it, and be sure to immediately run cold water over it in a strainer and then drain it so it's cool and somewhat dry before you assemble the casserole. I hope you'll give the recipe another try and hopefully you'll have a better outcome.
I made this recipe without meat or vegetables. It was terrible! It looked great but had a terrible aftertaste. My husband said the same thing, that it tasted chemically.
Oh no. I'm so sorry you had a bad outcome. I wonder what went wrong? What did you use in place of chicken in this recipe? Perhaps it was the metallic pan you used to sauté the protein and onions? Or perhaps your oil had gone rancid? Or, if you're not familiar with the taste of saffron, it's completely different than any other spice. I wonder if you were simply put off by that flavor? Again, I'm very sorry you had a bad experience. If you want to discuss this more, email me firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if we can get to the bottom of this.
Thanks for sharing your recipe. I scored a fail when I tried to flip the casserole. The top layer separated from the chicken and the white rice. I guess I should have packed it in more (?) but more important was that it was still delicious. Hope to get the perfect crust next time. 🙂
The flip is always a precarious moment. I hope you weren't too disappointed. Next time cook it for 5-10 minutes longer. I find if the rice dries out a bit more, it slides out of the casserole easier. I'm glad you enjoyed the meal! Thanks for your comment and star rating. Keep me posted if you cook it again.
I am so looking forward to cooking this!!!! Had this meal years ago,loved it ! Have been looking for the reciepe for years!!! Watch this space!🙌🙌🙌
I hope you enjoy Leslie! Please let me know 🙂
Great recipe! I don’t have a dishwasher so I keep promising myself that I’m only going to make food that uses a minimum of utensils. Ha! But I can’t resist interesting,delicious recipes. I used an ovenproof glass baking dish with a square of parchment paper on the bottom. Next time I’m going to use my cast-iron frying pan to get a crisper bottom crust. I used coconut kefir instead of yogurt and that worked out well. I agree with the person who said they’d use more spices in future. The mashed potato idea appeals as well. Thanks for the precise instructions, they made this recipe really doable. 🙂
Just tried this tonight! I didn't have some ingredients but definitely a 5* for technique since I've seen so many different recipes and techniques. So I didn't have saffron but I used turmeric for that bottom layer, and I did not have yogurt (which I thought I did) so I figured I could substitute that for sour cream and get away with it (I frantically googled on the internet if I could use sour cream in this dish with no definite answers so I hope to serve as an answer for others). Results: I was able to get a crisp!! but I think I could have cooked for about 10 more minutes for a better crunch (60 mins total) so cooking time definitely depends on you. I also could taste the sour cream just a little tiny bit, but I personally didn't mind it. When I try this recipe again (which I definitely will), I'll likely use saffron and yogurt and perhaps try cooking it in cast iron to get that crunch I was so hoping for, which Julianna mentioned in her comment. All in all, pretty solid recipe!
I was delighted to see this fantastic recipe! 🙂 Here are some additional tips to get that crispy rice and amazing flavor that makes this a favorite dish for so many of us...
- the additional caramelized onions are a "must"
- for vegetarians, you can sub baked or sautéed eggplant in place of chicken.
- don't skimp on the saffron. You want your rice mixture to be a beautiful sunshine yellow (not pale). You can grind the saffron in salt as suggested or with a sugar cube. (It won't sweeten the dish, but does give the saffron strands something to 'cling to'). Once ground, 'bloom the saffron' mixture in 2-3 T very hot water to a dark orange color and set aside til ready to mix. The saffron water will mellow to sunshine yellow once added to the rice/egg yolk/yogurt. If the mix looks too pale, bloom more saffron and add.
- Once oven is preheated and pyrex bottoms/sides are greased, *heat empty dish in oven* until it is sizzling hot but not burning the oil/butter mix. Carefully remove hot dish and then build layers. Or, if you have a large, **well-seasoned**cast iron pan with tall-ish sides, you can use this for extra crunch-- just add additional oil on bottom & sides and preheat the empty cast iron pan til sizzling; remove from oven & then build /add layers and cook.
- ***Important*** To more easily release the rice/prevent sticking: Before flipping, rest pan in cold water in a shallow baking tray so only the bottom is submerged or wrap the bottom of the hot dish in a cold wet dishtowel for ~5 mins before flipping. Run butter knife or spatula along sides/corners to loosen.
- When flipping; strength helps- especially if cast iron. Ensure your 'flip-to serving plate' entirely covers the cooked dish pan. Quickly, (come on- you can do this!), and with confidence, flip! Step back and admire your culinary masterpiece. Nooshe-jan!
Thanks for your amazing tips Juliana! I love the idea of substituting eggplant for a veggie version. Also love your tip with the saffron water. And most of all, I appreciate your help with how to get a successful flip-to-serve outcome. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this wonderful detailed comment.
Hi Lisa, thank you for your kind words! There's a chicken tachin in my oven right now and fingers crossed, it turns out as good as yours looks! I have a gorgeous pomegranate that I seeded to use in place of the barberries. My biggest learning when I first made this dish was not to hesitate when flipping, Otherwise, I would end up with an unimpressive, leaning rice mound that I'd have to cover in sabzi to hide 😉 (sabzi = mix of various fresh herbs like basil, mint, tarragon, watercress...) Take care, be well and thank you for your inspiring blog and recipes!
It was fun trying this new receipe and learning how to make a Persian dish! My friend really misses the taste from back home, and I made this dish for his bday. The rice didn't turn out crispy, and this was what I was most looking forward to! Any tips on how to achieve this coveted touch? I have a sense that it needed to stay longer in the oven, and yet, I was concerned the top layer of rice would dry out. Thank you for this wonderful site you have created! P.S. Despite the missing crispy rice, he still ate the whole pot in one day! LOL
After totally destroying one of my pots, I tried this in my Persian rice cooker and (again) thoroughly burned the bottom of the rice. Obviously, I overcooked but , after cutting away the burned part, enjoyed the rest! Will try again and cook less!
By the way, the cooking instructions for the rice cooker are hilarious; Persian translated to Japanese translated to English! Totally incomprehensible, which resulted in side splitting laughter among my friends as I tried to read it aloud!
I tried this yesterday and it was quite good, thanks for explaining it so well. I enjoyed reading your story and I am curious to read more about sephardic recipes. Mine didn't flip well at all so that was a bummer but the taste was still great!
Thanks for your version of a wonderful, tasty, and eye candy recipe.
This was a hit at our group gathering! The recipe was spot on, but I had changed a few things out of necessity and taste. I used a Labneh (ran out of yogurt) for the rice mixture, added peas, olives, and fenugreek leaves to chicken saute, used boneless thighs as well as breast meat - I preferred the thigh meat, and also used limes for the lemons in yogurt sauce. My friends did not know of these changes and gobbled it up, and also took home leftovers while asking me to make this again!
Flipping the dish was a challenge, but I will use a casserole dish with handles for easier flipping next time,
Sorry I forgot to post a rating
Can I make it in an opaque metal casserole dish?
Hi Bill. I've never tried it in a metal casserole so i can't be sure. My guess is, it will work. It will definitely taste great. Hopefully it will hold it's form.
Tried it for the first time last night for my cooking club and everyone loved it (even if it came apart as I flipped the square casserole dish upside down to unmold it). Though the prep took me longer than the estimate, it was worth every minute and hopefully it'll take me less time in the future.
Hi joy, I'm so glad you and your cooking club loved the Tachin Joojeh, even if it didn't 'look' perfect. that "flip" is tricky! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment.