Tahdig is a staple of Persian cuisine and there is no end to the variety you can make. This chicken wing tahdig is basically a one pot meal — you get crispy wings at the bottom of the pot with fluffy rice on top. The wings are also marinated in a saffron and onion mixture for more flavor and cooked with a touch of turmeric to ensure they are nicely golden at the end. You only need a bit of saffron to make this outstanding tahdig.
Sprinkle the saffron over 3 ice cubes in a small bowl and leave it at room temperature to melt, about 15 minutes. This will be your bloomed saffron.
Place the chicken wings in a large bowl and add the bloomed saffron with the lemon juice, onion, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix and make sure all the wings are coated with the saffron mixture. Marinate the chicken wings for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Fill a 2-quart nonstick saucepan with water (about 7 cups) and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Rinse the rice a few times to get rid of the excess starch. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the rice to the boiling water. Return to a boil and par-cook for 6 minutes, just until the rice is tender on the outside but still firm in the middle (test by pinching a single grain). Drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water to get rid of the excess salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Remove the wings from the marinade, discarding the onion, and add to the skillet. Sear the wings until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, and set them aside.
Dry the nonstick saucepan and place it over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and the butter to the saucepan and heat until shimmering, then add the turmeric and arrange the wings skin-side down in the saucepan in a single layer. Spoon the rice over the wings and press it down using a spoon or spatula. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5 holes in the rice to allow steam to escape and promote the formation of the crust. Wrap the lid in a clean kitchen towel and place it on the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the rice is tender and the wings are crispy and cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Remove the lid, place a plate on the saucepan and carefully flip it over, crispy side up. You can also scoop out the rice and then place the wings on top.
Searing the chicken wings on both sides before adding them to the tahdig ensures that they won’t release their juices while cooking with the rice.
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