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Golden Crispy Saffron Rice (Tahchin)

Inspired by Persian tahchin, this Crispy Golden Saffron Rice is a stunning entree full of rich flavor! This rice colored with saffron is a nourishing dinner pretty enough for a holiday table. Totally vegan!

slice of crispy saffron rice on a silver server

The History and Origins of Saffron Rice and Yellow Rices

It is important to note first and foremost that I am not an authority on Persian cuisine or these traditional methods. I have a great uncle who is from Iran and thus was fortunate to experience my great aunt’s Persian recipes at a young age. However, I have never visited Iran and have a lot more to learn about the culture. This recipe is a plant-based take on a centuries-old dish, I definitely am taking liberties in the name of experimentation and creativity. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible and encourage you to do the same. For authentic Persian recipes, feel free to check out Cooking with Zahra, Family Spice,and Persian Mama.

I will say I had fun researching this recipe! Interestingly, there are many versions of yellow rice across cultures; Spanish, Moroccan, Peruvian, Caribbean, Portuguese, Filipino, Afghan, Indian, Sri Lankan, South African and Indonesian cuisines all have some variation of it. Typically, it is made with a form of white rice made yellow with annatto, saffron, or turmeric.

overhead shot of yellow rice colored with saffron on a white plate

What is tahchin?

Sometimes referred to as tachin, tahchin is a baked saffron rice dish traditionally made with basmati rice, yogurt, eggs, and saffron. It can be layered with other ingredients including vegetables and meats. Today’s recipe is a plant-based spin on this, substituting vegan yogurt and coconut milk for traditional yogurt and ground flaxseeds for normal eggs.

swirls of orange and red saffron in a milk mixture
Saffron-yogurt mixture

What is tahdig?

In Farsi, the word tahdig (pronounced tah-DEEG) means “bottom of the pot.”┬áThis refers to the crispy layer of rice that forms on the bottom of this savory rice “cake.” This makes sense once you see the cooking variation used – the rice on the bottom layer of the pan becomes very crispy when flipped upside down onto a plate for serving.

overhead shot of white basmati rice in a yellow saffron mixture
Basmati rice as it’s mixed into saffron yogurt

How to Make Vegan Tahchin

The process for making crispy saffron rice is fairly simple:

  1. Rinse the rice to remove excess starch.
  2. Par-boil the rice for 7 minutes and drain. While rice is boiling, you’ll steep the saffron in hot water to produce that vibrant orange color!
  3. Next, you’ll finish the wet mixture with saffron, yogurt, coconut milk, lemon juice, and oil. This will be mixed into your parboiled rice (pictured above) poured into an oven safe baking dish, covered and baked.
  4. Once the rice is nice and golden, you’ll remove it from the oven, invert onto a serving plate, and dig in! I topped mine with pomegranate, chickpeas, and parsley but I offer some more traditional topping options in the recipe below.

overhead shot of yellow rice colored with saffron on a white plate

I hope you enjoy this inspired take on Persian tahchin! If you’re looking for more uses for rice, Feel free to try Vegan Rice Pudding next!

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slice of tachin/rispy saffron rice on a silver server

Golden Crispy Saffron Rice (Tahchin)

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  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 9 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Inspired by Persian tahchin, this Crispy Golden Saffron Rice is a stunning entree full of rich flavor! This rice colored with saffron is a nourishing dinner pretty enough for a holiday table. Totally vegan!


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 TBS sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp saffron, partially ground
  • 2 TBS ground flax seed + 5 TBS water (or 2 eggs if not vegan)
  • 1 cup plant-based yogurt (or 1 cup coconut milk + 1 TBS lemon juce)
  • Scant 1/2 cup neutral oil, like vegetable
  • For topping: chickpeas, parsley, pomegranate, barberries, tart cherries, pistachios


  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, adding a few large TBS of salt to the water. While water is coming to a boil, rise rice in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Add rice to the pot once boiling. Boil for 7 or so minutes, until slightly cooked. Drain and set aside.
  2. Mix your flax seed and water in a smaller cup and let sit in the fridge to gel for about 5 minutes. While rice is cooking, add your saffron to a large bowl with 2 TBS hot water. Let this steep for 5-10 minutes, until it’s thoroughly yellow. Once steeped, add to this large bowl the flax eggs, vegan yogurt (or coconut milk/lemon juice mixture) and oil. Stir to combine (as pictured above).
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Add your rice to the saffron mixture, also pictured above. Carefully fold rice as you don’t want to break too many of the grains.
  4. Lightly oil a glass pie plate or similarly sized oven-safe dish (glass will help you gage how browned the rice is getting). Add rice to the plate, slightly packing down. The bottom of a cup can help with this. Place your rice-filled pie plate on a cookie sheet (to catch potential spills). Cover the dish with foil.* Bake for one hour.
  5. Remove tahchin from oven and check that sides are browned. Let cool for 10 minutes (this will help it firm up). Slide a butter knife around the edges to. check that they are loose enough to release. Place a large dinner plate upside-down on top of the pie dish. Confidently flip the tahchin and plate upside down, so that the plate is now right side-up on your counter and the tahchin in inverted. Carefully slide your tahchin out from the dish. It’s OK if it breaks! You should see a browned tahdig on the top.
  6. Serve the tahchin with your toppings of choice.


*I made this when I was out of foil and it still turned out great! Just be sure to keep an eye on it if you go this route since it may dry out more quickly when uncovered.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Persian


  • Serving Size: One ninth of recipe
  • Calories: 241 calories
  • Sugar: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 407mg
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 29g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Pin this Crispy Saffron Rice:

Inspired by Persian tachin, this Crispy Golden Rice is a stunning entree full of rich flavor! This rice colored with saffron is a nourishing dinner pretty enough for a holiday table. Totally vegan!

Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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