Greg Malouf’s recipe for Persian Baked Yoghurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e morgh), within a review of his book Saraban: A chef’s journey through Persia, remains a popular post on the blog, and it has been lovely to see how many readers have given the recipe a go and enjoyed it as much as we did.
Of course, many of us immediately started thinking about variations – using the basic recipe for a baked rice cake with a filling of yoghurt-marinated chicken but ringing the changes by changing that marinade. It’s not that we were dissatisfied with Greg’s original recipe as it stands, but that it was so good it inspired us to take it further.
One idea I had back then, but still haven’t got around to trying, is to use the yoghurt-based marinade from my mum’s Tandoori chicken or lamb recipe to make an Indian-spiced Tahcheen-e Morgh.
Another idea, which we tried and very much enjoyed, was to mix African Volcano Peri Peri marinade with yoghurt to make a Mozambique-spiced Tahcheen-e Morgh. Because producer Grant Hawthorne has already done all the work in creating a beautifully balanced blend of flavours, using his Peri Peri makes this variation super quick and easy, though you will still benefit from giving the chicken plenty of time in the marinade before assembling the dish and baking it.
African Volcano Tahcheen-e Morgh (Baked Yoghurt Rice with Chicken)
350 grams thick natural yoghurt (full fat)
4 tablespoons African Volcano Peri Peri Marinade
3 egg yolks
0.5 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
500 grams boneless free-range chicken thighs, skin removed, in 2 cm cubes
200 grams basmati rice
2 tablespoons sea salt
80 grams butter plus extra for greasing
- Beat the yoghurt with the egg yolks, African Volcano Peri Peri Marinade, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Add the chicken to the yoghurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours ahead of time.
- Wash the rice thoroughly, then leave it to soak in a generous amount of lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Swish it around with your fingers every now and then to loosen the starch. Strain the rice, rinsing it again with warm water.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the salt and stir in the strained rice. Return the water to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Test the rice by pinching a grain between your fingers or by biting it. It should be soft on the outside, but still hard in the centre. Strain the rice and rinse again with warm water. Toss it several times to drain away as much of the water as you can.
- Preheat the oven to 190 C (fan).
- Butter a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Add a circle of baking parchment to the bottom of the dish and butter over it again.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the yoghurt marinade, retaining both. Use your fingers to wipe lots of the marinade from the chicken, so only a small amount remains on the meat.
- Mix the parboiled rice with the marinade and spoon half of the mixture into the base of the ovenproof dish. Spread the rice out over the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Arrange the chicken in the well. Spoon the rest of the rice over it to cover, and smooth the surface flat.
- Press a sheet of lightly buttered foil down onto the surface of the rice, put the lid onto the dish and bake for 1.5 hours.
- Remove the dish from the oven, lift the foil away and dot the surface of the rice with generous knobs of butter. Replace the foil, put the lid back on and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Carefully turn the rice out onto a warm serving platter and peel away the parchment paper.
- Serve with a bowl of creamy full fat yoghurt and fresh mixed green herbs.
Do have a go and let me know what you think of my variation on the classic Persian Tahcheen-e Morgh!