Eggplant and Mushroom Baked Saffron Rice (Tahcheen)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adorn your table with this Eggplant and Mushroom Baked Saffron Rice, or Tahcheen, a vegetarian version of a commonly chicken-filled Persian dish. It is as delicious as it is spectacular, sprinkled with crunchy pistachios and tart barberries.
Recipe type: Main Dishes
Serves: 8 to 10 servings
  • Rice:
  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • Salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups thick plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Saffron Water:
  • ¼ packed teaspoon saffron threads
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons boiled water
  • Filling:
  • 3 medium eggplants (around1 ¼ lbs), cut lengthwise into ½-inch slices
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms (cups only), sliced into large chunks
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon allspice, ground
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
  • Topping:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons dried barberries
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon raw pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Prepare the Rice: Rinse the rice in several changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then leave to soak in a large bowl of lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon of salt for 15 minutes. Drain (do not rinse) and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the rice and cook for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat. Taste to test; the rice should be soft on the outside but still slightly hard and firm in the middle. Drain and set aside.
  3. Make the Saffron Water: Make a saffron liquid by using a pestle and mortar to grind the saffron strands with a pinch of sugar, then adding the boiling water. Cover with a saucer and leave aside to steep.
  4. Prepare the Filling: Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the eggplant slices on it in a single layer. Brush the eggplants with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 25 minutes, turning the slices halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, make the rest of your filling. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan along with the turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Lightly toast the cumin seeds in a small pan for a minute over medium heat, tossing or stirring to prevent burning and then crush them with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder, and add them too. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and then take off the heat. (You will notice the mushrooms have turned very dark; this is ok).
  7. Assemble the Tahcheen: Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the yogurt, saffron water, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Fold the rice in until it is evenly coated with the yogurt and saffron.
  8. Rub 1 tablespoon of butter over the base and side of a 10-cup (8-by-11-inch) ovenproof glass dish. Spoon half of the rice into the dish and press it own evenly. Arrange the eggplant slices in a layer (or layers), following with a layer of mushrooms. Finish with the final layer of rice and even the top. Dot with the remaining butter, cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the base of the tahcheen is crisp and golden brown.
  9. When the tahcheen is ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly while you make the topping.
  10. Make the Topping: Melt the butter in a small frying pan and fry the barberries, pistachios, and sugar for 2 minutes until the sugar has melted and the dried fruit has plumped up. Remove from the heat.
  11. Serve the Tahcheen: To serve, run a knife around the sides of the tahcheen to separate it from the dish. Place a large board over the top and quickly invert the whole thing. Garnish with a sprinkling of the barberry and pistachio topping.
Adapted from The Saffron Tales, by Yasmin Khan.
Recipe by AZ Cookbook at