Persian-Style Rice

Persian-Style Rice
Photography by Brian Wetzstein | Food styling by Donna Coates and Linda Hall

Preparing the iconic Persian rice chelo involves a time-honored cooking method that produces unforgettable flavor. This adaptation incorporates basmati rice and grapeseed oil and uses turmeric instead of saffron.

SERVING SIZE: ½ cup (100 grams)
PREP TIME: 35 minutes
COOKING TIME: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1½ cups dry basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons salt, divided
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) grapeseed oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric


  1. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool water for 30 seconds.
  2. In a large glass bowl, whisk 2 cups room temperature water with 2 teaspoons salt.
  3. Add rice and soak for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain rice and set aside.
  5. In a large nonstick or ceramic pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt and allow to dissolve.
  7. Add soaked rice and cook uncovered for 8 minutes.
  8. Rice should be firm but not crunchy.
  9. Remove from heat, strain rice and rinse with cool water.
  10. Place rice in a large bowl and add 1 cup ice to speed up cooling, stirring continuously until ice melts.
  11. Rinse with cool water and strain.
  12. Return pot to stove over high heat. Add oil, ensuring it covers the entire bottom of
    the pot.
  13. Sprinkle turmeric over the oil and begin adding rice in an even layer.
  14. Once rice reaches a ½-inch layer, make a mound in the center of the pot with remaining rice.
  15. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make holes throughout the mound to allow air to escape.
  16. Cover the lid of the pot with a kitchen towel and tie the towel corners around the lid using a rubber band so they do not catch on fire.
  17. Let rice cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook another 60 minutes.
  18. Remove pot from heat and allow rice to sit uncovered for 5 minutes.
  19. Spoon white rice off the top and set aside.
  20. Using oven mitts, invert a plate over the pot and turn pot upside down, allowing the bottom rice (traditionally known as tadig) to fall onto the plate.
  21. If tadig does not fall in one piece, use a spoon to remove excess rice from the bottom of the pot.
  22. Serve tadig over cooked white rice.

NUTRITION PER SERVING: 209 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat,
0mg cholesterol, 207mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugar, 3g protein, 39mg potassium, 43mg phosphorus

Note: Analysis assumes 10% absorption of salt.

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Elizabeth Shaw
Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, is a nutrition communications consultant, fertility specialist and author based in San Diego. You can find her at or Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.