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Saffron chicken rice cake

Tahchin is a Persian classic! Baked savoury rice cake, prepared with a delicious chicken centre. A crispy golden rice crust and cut open like a cake and you find juicy succulent flavorful chicken with the infusion of saffron and yogurt. Topped with the sweet caramelized red onion and plump barberries all tossed together adding a bit of luxury to the finished dish.




  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 pounds of chicken filet
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water


  • 2 cups Balkan yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1/2 cup of hot water
  • Salt and pepper, to season


  • 2 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 9 cups water, divided 4 + 5
  • 4 tablespoons salt, divided


  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks


  • 1 cup barberries
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1oz saffron, fried



  1. Place a pan on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil and add your onions. You want to lightly brown them.
  2. Once lightly browned, add your chicken on top of the onion. Then dissolve your turmeric, salt and pepper in one cup of water. Add the entire mixture to your chicken and onion and cook on low for 45 minutes. You are basically slowly braising the chicken. Once cooked, you can set it aside to cool. 


  1. In a bowl, add the yogurt, dissolved saffron, salt and pepper and the braised chicken mixture you set aside earlier. Let it sit in the marinade for at least two hours at room temperature or you can really go all out and marinade it in the fridge overnight.


  1. Take your two cups of rice and wash them in a bowl in warm water, until the water runs clear.
  2. Soak the rice in four cups of water with two tablespoons of salt for two hours.
  3. Add five cups of water to a large non-stick pot and two tablespoons of salt. Bring the water to a boil and add your rice into the pot and boil briskly for 10 minutes. Gently stir the rice twice as it's boiling to loosen the grains.
  4. After 10 minutes, grab a couple of grains and bite them to see if they are soft—that’s how you know it is ready to be drained. Once ready, drain the rice in a colander and rinse the rice two to three times under running cold water.


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. 
  2. Melt a three-quarter cup of butter and set aside. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add your yogurt, cooked rice, the remaining saffron water and three egg yolks. Mix gently. 
  4. Grab a deep ovenproof baking dish and add half your melted butter to the bottom of the dish. Take your rice, saffron, egg and yogurt mixture and make a one-and-a-half-inch bed at the bottom of the dish. Then layer your chicken, saffron, and yogurt mixture on top of the bed of rice. Take the remaining rice, saffron, egg and yogurt mixture and cover your chicken mixture with it. Drizzle the remaining butter on top. Using a wooden spoon spread the mixture evenly throughout the pan and gently pack it into the baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and make some small holes in the foil to allow the steam to escape. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake.
  5. After 30 minutes of cooking time lower the oven to 350° F and cook for two more hours—if the edges of the dish have turned a golden brown—it's ready.


  1. Remove the dish and set it aside to cool on a damp cloth for five minutes.
  2. Loosen the rice around the edges of the dish with the point of a knife. Place a large serving dish over the baking dish. Holding both dishes together firmly, flip the baking dish upside down onto the serving dish. You should have a beautiful golden crust of saffron chicken and rice ready to serve.
  3. In a small pan place your barberries, sugar and one ounce of saffron—fry lightly for two to four minutes on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. 
  4. Remove the barberries and sprinkle them on top of your tahchin. Serve and enjoy! 

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