Saffron Fried Fish with Herbed Tahdig Rice

Celebrate Nowruz with a festive and fragrant Iranian meal.

  • Serves

    serves 6

  • Cook

    1 hour 45 minutes


By Shahpar Khaledi

Published on March 18, 2022

This Nowruz staple comes to us courtesy of Darioush Wines co-founder Shahpar Khaledi, who likes to pair the traditional, saffron-scented Persian fish and crispy herbed tahdig with her family’s Napa Valley chardonnay, merlot, or their earthy and light-bodied Russian River Valley pinot noir.


For the tahdig

  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 cup canola oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 2 large pitas, sliced crosswise into strips
  • Kosher salt

For the fish

  • 2 lb. cod fillet, cut in 6 oz. portions
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 14 cup canola oil
  • 1 medium bitter orange, sliced into wedges
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Make the saffron water: To a small pot set over high heat, add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the saffron and allow to steep until a deep amber color, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Step 2

Make the rice: Fill a large nonstick pot two thirds of the way full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Season the water generously with salt, then stir in the rice and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente, 10–12 minutes. Set a fine mesh strainer in the sink and strain the rice. In a large bowl, combine the chopped cilantro, dill parsley, cilantro, scallions and garlic. Add the reserved rice and mix well. In the original pot, mix together ¼ cup of the canola oil, butter, and 1 tablespoon of the saffron water. Add the pita bread, completely covering the bottom of the pot. Gently spoon the rice over the bread, pour the remainder of the saffron water all over the top, cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

Step 3

Pour ¼ cup of cool water and the remaining canola oil over the rice and continue to cook with the cover on for another 30 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, prepare the fish. To a medium bowl, add the flour and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Set aside

Step 5

Season the cod pieces all over with salt and black pepper, and then dust in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Delicately brush the portions with the saffron water on both sides.

Step 6

Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and place it by the stove.

Step 7

To a medium nonstick skillet set over medium-high, add the canola oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, fry the fish in batches, cooking until crispy and golden brown all over, 3–4 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to the baking sheet. Keep warm while you unmold the rice.

Step 8

Remove the rice from the heat. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water and submerge the bottom of the pot in the water to loosen the contents on the inside, about 10 minutes.

Step 9

Flip the pot onto a platter and serve warm, with the crispy bread and rice from the bottom of the pot on top alongside the saffron fried fish and orange wedges.

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