26 March 2014

Tah chin with caramelized onions, barberries, green garlic and chicken thighs

I have posted several Tah chin recipes in this blog so far. Examples of some older posts are this and this while some more recent ones could be found here and there. In this post and following upcoming posts, I’ll try to stick to more traditional versions that are cooked in a pan on stove top and for a long time. 

In principle, Tah chin is baked rice in yogurt custard. As a matter of fact, Tah chin is a one-pot dish and like all one-pot dishes, there is no unique recipe to make it. Some like their custard rich in oil and not so rich in yogurt. Others might use more yogurt and yolks and less oil. A few (including me), prefer a light custard rich in yogurt and a little butter. 

To study them all, in these couple of posts, I’ll try different custards with different dairy products, different ratio of custard ingredients, different parboiled rice,  and finally different filling mixture combinations.   .   

2 cups Jasmin rice
3 cups water
1 TBSP salt
8 TBSP butter
1 ½ TBSP sugar
1 cup kefir
Pinch of saffron
6 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to season
1 cup barberries
2 small white onions, finely chopped
1 TBSP poultry seasoning of choice
½ cup green garlic, finely chopped

To parboil the rice, mix it with water, salt, Sugar and butter. Put on high heat and cook until all the liquid is evaporated and the rice is still very al-dente. 

Add kefir(or buttermilk if you will) and cook for a minute or two or till the rice mixture is thick again.

Add saffron and set aside to cool down while you are working on other components.

Season thighs (definitely bone-in skin-on) with salt and pepper and sear each side for a minute in a hot pan; set aside. 

In the same pan, caramelize onions over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the seasoning; I used my favorite Latin complete seasoning. Gram masala or any aromatic spice mixture are also suitable choices.

Add barberries and cook for a minute and then add garlic greens. Garlic greens are the green part of young garlic plants and could be found in oriental or Indian food stores in spring. If however can’t get a hold of, replace it with ramps or even spring onions.

To assemble tah chin, lay half of the rice on bottom of a heavy non-stick pan. The pan should be at least 10 inches(25cm) in diameter and 5 inches(12cm) deep. Arrange the thighs over rice and spread caramelized onion mixture evenly on that.

Lay the other half of the rice on top.

We use the dum cooking technique here. The piece of cloths, absorbs the steam and does not let it turn into water and flow down to the pot. This will ensure crispy rice known as Tah dig.

Cook on high for 5~10 minute or till you see steam flowing out of the pot. Reduce the heat to the lowest level possible and cook for around 90 minutes. 

A quick tip: When all the moisture is evaporated and the crispy rice starts to form, the smell starts to intensify. After that point, you'll see no steam flowing out and just smell a divine aroma. Your Tah chin should be ready 15 minutes after that point. Cook longer than that and the bottom rice will burn in a very unattractive way.

Tip2: You can start sampling the rice on the side to see if it is crispy enough. Remember the bottom rice (that you can’t access) is always much darker than the side rice. So consider that.

Tip3: When done with cooking, immediately transfer to the serving dish otherwise the crispy rice will be soggy. It is not a bad idea to give it a 10 minute rest in the serving plate so it could be cut more neatly.

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