How to survive Sunday while waiting for True Blood

Why do I have a feeling that I have been absent from this blog lately? Coherent thoughts about food seem to escape me at the moment. I really blame the vampires of True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I’ve been sucked (was that an intended pun?) into their fascinating supernatural world for the past month and I’ve read five books back to back and trolled around youtube for addictive snippets from the show. Pathetic …I know. I feel almost like I’m back in high school except I’m crushing on more dangerous heartthrobs…oh wait vampires do not have beating hearts … πŸ˜€  (I’m on team Eric, btw, who is portrayed flawlessly by the talented Alexander Skarsgard).

I’m still thinking of a dish to make for the season finale (September 13), any suggestions? I’ve gotten some interesting responses from twitter, whether I’ll follow through with a beet colored dish for the last episode remains to be seen, I was underwhelmed with the season’s penultimate installment – “Frenzy” and might not feel as excited in two weeks.

Anyway, the “Hungry” Hubby had been after me to make Tah Chin for a while now. I failed miserably once and have since made adjustments to my understanding of the recipe. The trademark of this dish is the tasty crust that forms by mixing yogurt, saffron and rice together. And yes, it uses an obscene amount of clarified butter which is essential for the crust to form and detach from the pot. Be sure to check out my cooking notes at the end of the recipe.

Tah Chin-e-morgh

Baked Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken
Tah Chin-e-morgh

3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. skinless chicken, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crush
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 tsp. ground saffron dissolved in 4 tbs. hot water
3 cups long-grain basmati rice
3/4 cup clarified butter or oil

Notes: The original recipe called for 1 1/2 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. advieh – a persian spice mix for rice. I omitted both spices that would have been added to the yogurt-rice mixture because Hungry Hubby did not care for it much.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place one onion, salt, pepper, and meat in an oven-proof baking dish. Cover and bake for 1 hour, drain and allow to cool.
In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, one onion and saffron water. Add salt to taste and marinate the meat in this mixture for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Clean and wash 3 cups of rice 5 times in warm water.
Bring 8 cups water and 2 tbs. salt to a boil in a large pot. Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. Boil briskly for 6 to 10 minutes, gently stirring twice to loosen any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. Bite a few grains. If the rice feels soft, it is ready. Drain in a large, fine-mesh colander and rinse in 2 to 3 cups lukewarm water.
Heat 1 tbs. oil in a non-stick skillet and saute the last onion. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove the meat from the marinade. Combine the beaten egg yolks, 4 spatulas of rice, sauteed onion, half of the marinade.
Heat 1/2 cup butter or oil in Pyrex baking dish in the oven. Add the mixture of rice and marinade, spread it across the bottom and up the sides of the baking dish. Place the meat pieces on top, cover with layers of rice and rest the marinade (If you want to add the barberry layer, check out how to prepare this tier below). Pour the rest of the butter over the rice. Pack firmly using wooden spoon and cover with oiled aluminum foil.
Place baking dish in the oven and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the bottom turns golden brown.
Remove baking dish from oven. Allow to cool on damp surface for 10 to 15 minutes (do not uncover). Then loosen the rice around the edges of the baking dish with the point of a knife. Place a large serving dish over the baking dish. Hold both dishes firmly together with two hands and turn them upside down.
Serve hot with fresh herbs, yogurt, and Persian pickles (torshi)

Ghee (clarified butter)

Bring 1 lb. of butter to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until foam subsides. Let sit for 5 minutes and then strain over muslin cloth or 3 layers of cheesecloth to separate clear butter from the milk solids.

Barberry layer (zereshk)
This is not in the original recipe but Hungry Hubby requested that I add this.

2 cups dried barberries cleaned, washed and drained
1 onion, medium, diced
2 tbs. butter
4 tbs. sugar

Place the berries in a colander. Place the colander in a large container full of cold water and allow barberries to soak for 20 minutes. The sand will settle to the bottom. Take the colander out of the container and run cold water over the barberries; drain and set aside.
Saute 1 sliced onion in 2 tbs. butter, add the barberries and saute for just 1 minute over low heat because barberries burn very easily. Add 4 tbs. sugar, mix well and set aside.

You can add this layer after adding a thin covering of rice to the chicken tier. I used only 3/4 cup in my recipe and it is nowhere enough which is why I increased it to two cups in this recipe.

Cooking Notes

This took me half a day to prepare. The steps could be broken up into stages if you do not have a contiguous block of time to devote in a day . You can prepare the clarified butter and marinate the chicken, the day before. There are several ways to prepare the meat in this dish. You can choose to bake it first before marinating in yogurt and saffron, which is what I did. You can also marinate the uncooked meat in yogurt, salt, pepper, saffron water (cumin and advieh) and then proceed to the step to clean and wash the rice. A third choice is cooking the meat separately which is how my sister-in-law prepares her Tah Chin – a method I am curious to try next time. Cooking the chicken twice makes it a tad drier and mixing the raw chicken with cooked rice is a bit icky even if the dish is going to be cooked for another 2 hours. I may also have cooked the chicken too long during its initial bake. The original recipe called for lamb and I probably should have reduced the cooking time by 15 minutes.
The most important step I feel is washing the rice as directed – 5 times until the water runs clear. This was my failure on the previous attempt: when I boiled the rice it got too starchy and instead of getting loose grains of rice after the initial cooking they kind of stuck together.
For the yogurt, I decided to drain it so I’d get a more concentrated flavor and I think the reduced moisture will improve the development of the crust. I used up two pints of yoghurt. I drained 1 1/2 pints by wrapping the yogurt in a flour sack kitchen towel (you can also use muslin or several layers of cheese cloth) and reserved the remaining half pint to adjust the viscosity of the marinade.

I baked the Tah chin in 9 by 13 pyrex baking dish so I can monitor the development of the crust better. I actually adjusted my cooking temperature to 365F after the first hour and added another 30 minutes for a total baking time of 2.5 hours.

So if you want to get over the angst of waiting for a show to air, just get cooking in your kitchen with a dish that would preferably take the whole day to prepare – stuffed boneless duck, anyone?

Layer of Chicken under the crust


27 thoughts on “How to survive Sunday while waiting for True Blood

  1. This looks and sounds really interesting! Funny to see you blogging about True Blood, I just finished watching last nights episode, not exactly exciting, I hope the finale is much better, I can’t wait. No suggestions for food options, but blood colored anything is not o appetizing, although fitting πŸ™‚

  2. i haven’t watched true blood yet and i can’t believe it because everyone is raving about it. i love one-in-all dishes and that crispy crust is just perfection!

  3. That looks delicious!

    Don’t worry, you are not the only one to act as if you’d be in high school ;-P!!! I am also addicted to True Blood! Yes, Eric is a great character…



  4. I love how you can see the crusty layer on top! I’ve heard good things about true blood. I just finished the twilight series so I’m considering diving into that!

  5. That’s okay, I’m blaming my True Blood addiction on you πŸ˜› Now I need to read the novels *sigh*

    And dear lord, that is a lot of clarified butter! Lovely crust though, so it’s definitely worth it.

  6. This is awesome. Thank you Veron for this! BTW, what’s size of the baking dish did you use?

    I will defenitely make this and report back to you!

  7. Thanks “Hungry” Hubby for repeatedly bugging me to make this :)!
    Thanks Maria!
    Thanks T.W. – it was definitely worth the effort and it tasted better today too!
    Thanks Angela! Yes, TB yesterday felt like a filler episode, I hope the finale won’t disappoint!
    Thanks Aran – watch it! It may be too much for other folks but I find it wickedly funny and dark.
    Thanks Rosa- Eric is definitely one of the most interesting characters of the show.
    Thanks Erica! Move to True blood if you like the twilight series, I’m sure you’ll like it.
    Hi Caitlin- bwahahaha…glad I got you hooked. It is addictive to watch , huh?
    Hi Big Boys Oven! I do love biryani too!
    Thanks Anh! I used 9×13 pyrex dish. Definitely let me know how it turns out for you.

  8. Pingback: Anurag’s Blog » How to survive Sunday while waiting for True Blood | Kitchen Musings

  9. when i first set my eyes on that picture,
    i thought it was pineapple rice! heh.
    but looking at the picture and recipe closely,
    i think its wayyyyy better.

  10. You could make a “Hunter’s Souffle” (nitpicky foodie aside here– which really wasn’t a souffle, it was more like a bloody pot pie)– without the human heart of course πŸ˜‰

  11. Wow, I have read about recipes such as this one, but have never seen the finished product. I know I would just eat the whole crust myself so I don’t think I’ll be attempting this anytime soon. πŸ™‚

  12. Hahaha! Saw the first comment by the “hungry” hubby. It must have been REALLY good for him to rush to comment first!
    But no surprise, because it looks AMAZING! I’ve never heard of this dish before though…MUST make it sometime!

  13. I would absolutely set a day aside to prepare this unbelievable recipe. Thank you so much for the clear and concise instructions. The dish looks absolutely amazing!

    As for your finale dish, I haven’t read the books but I have run across, what I think may be appropriate recipes, on a few Halloween recipes sites. Just a thought…

  14. YUM! I about had a cow when I saw this post. My good childhood friend’s mom used to make this dish and I LOVED it! The crust. I LOVED it!

    So. Thank you!

    Will you please help me out? How much does it cost you to purchase the “unique” ingredients? By “unique,” I mean the clarified butter or oil, the barberries, and saffron. I am in the process of researching and the prices are a bit high. Is that to be expected?

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