In general I am a huge fan of Tahchin. I decided to try Tahchin-e Esfenaj and see if the spinach version is just as tasty as the regular Tahchin that I typically make. Its definitely tasty!
One thing I did differently is that instead of adding aloo (prunes) to the spinach, I only added lemon juice. My reason for this is that I didnt like the idea of taking a bite and ending up with a haste (seed) in my mouth! Its a personal choice.
Ingredients (4-6 people):
3-4 cups rice — wash and soak your rice prior to cooking. Add salt to the water it is soaking in.
2 bunches of spinach
.5 lb chicken or meat
100-200 grams aloo (optional) , or you can use 3-4 tablespoons powdered ghoreh (sour grape)–I used lemon juice instead. If using aloo make sure you soak it in water prior to using it.
1.5 cups plain yogurt
2 egg yolks
1 medium onion –chopped up
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron
Clean/wash the spinach and then cut off the stems. Chop the spinach up a little. Note: do not chop the spinach up too much, or into little pieces. Place the spinach in a pot and add about a cup of water, salt, and baking soda to the pot and set on the stove top on medium heat (cover the pot with lid). Allow the spinach to cook for a bit.
Once the spinach is cooked use a strainer to drain out the water. Note: you will need to use a spoon or spatula to squeeze the spinach a bit and make sure most of the water is drained out. In a pot fry 3-4 tablespoons of the chopped onions in oil until slightly golden then add th spinach and fry the spinach. After a few minutes of frying the spinach remove the pot from the heat and place it aside.
In another pot (on the stove top set to medium heat) fry the remaining chopped onions until slightly golden then add the chicken (or meat) pieces and fry them. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric (and if not using prunes some lemon juice) to the contents of the pot and stir. Add 1- 1.5 cups of water to the pot and cover the contents with the lid. Allow the chicken to fully cook and to have at least 1/2 cup of water left in the pot by the time its cooked.
Once the meat is ready you can prepare your rice. In a large pot bring water to a boil. Add your rice (that has been soaking in salt water) to the pot and allow the rice to come to a boil. Drain the rice in a strainer and set aside.
Add hot water to the 3/4 of the saffron in a bowl and allow the saffron to dissolve a bit then mix together the yogurt, egg yolks, saffron, and 3-4 tablespoons oil. You will then add this yogurt mixture to the bottom of a pot. Note: I mixed two spatula’s worth of rice with this yogurt mixture, then poured it into a large pot. You may even choose to add more oil to the bottom of the pot before adding the yogurt mixture. If you plan on making the Tahchin in the oven, use an oven safe dish (preferably round in shape).
Add half the spinach on top of the yogurt layer and use the back of a spatula or spoon to press down on the contents of the Tahchin. Add a bit of rice on top of this layer and then add the the chicken (or meat) on top of the rice. Note: if using aloo (or powdered ghooreh) you will add it at this time on top of the chicken (or meat).
Add the rest of the spinach on top of the chicken (or aloo) layer. Finally cover the spinach with the remaining rice and use a spatula or spoon to once more press down on the contents.
Combine some of the chicken stock (strain it first) and 4 tablespoons of oil, along with some liquid saffron (use remaining saffron and mix with hot water). Pour this mixture over the surface of the rice. Cover the pot with a lid and place the pot on stove top or in the oven. Note: if you use the oven your crust will come out more even…at least thats how my luck usually goes. If using the stove top heat up the pot on the stove top then cover the lid with a cloth or towel and let it “dam bekeshe” or fully cook for at least 1 hour to a maximum of 2 hours. If using the oven for 30 minutes set the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then after 30 minutes set it to 300 degrees.