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.
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!