Upside-Down Persian Macaroni With The Crunchy Bottom Layer (Tah-Dig)



In one of my earlier posts I wrote about Persian macaroni. This is a revisit with a focus on making the pasta tah-dig (crust at the bottom of  pan), where the noodles meet the hot oil with a pinch of turmeric and form a flavorful and golden crunchy layer at the bottom of the pan. A good tah-dig is crispy but not burned, crunchy but not hard. Those of you who are familiar with Persian food know that tah-dig is one of the most sought-after parts of a rice dish. Personally, I prefer the flavorful tah-dig over the fluffy and aromatic rice!  Noodles also make a delicious tah-dig when making pasta. If by any chance the tah-dig turns out a bit harder than what you expected it to be, pour a spoonful of sauce over it and spread to soften it a bit before biting into it.  Here's a link to my other tah dig recipe : The Art of Making Persian Tah-Dig.


For a family of six kids, simple and easy macaroni (Persian style pasta with ground meat and tomato sauce) always had a place on our dinner table while growing up. It was one of my favorite dishes then and now I enjoy making it for my family. Back home, my mother always cooked pasta with the hollow spaghetti noodles (bucatini). I liked those hollow noodles and I've  looked for them many times in the past while grocery shopping but I haven't seen them on the shelves anywhere. It seems that they aren't as popular as the other kinds of noodle varieties here.


Macaroni Tah Dig - Upside-Down Persian Macaroni With The Crunchy Bottom Layer

Ingredients:
Serves 6-8

1 pound ground beef
1 pound spaghetti pasta
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, skin removed and diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of tomato sauce (16 ounces)
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Water
Olive oil

Method:
  1. In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons of oil, add onions ad saute onion over medium-high heat heat until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric, stir and continue cooking for another minute or two before adding the beef. Break the beef  into tiny pieces with a fork and brown. Scoop out any excess fat. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in the tomatoes and the tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  2. In the meantime, bring large pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions but drain 2-3 minutes before it becomes al-dente, since they'll cook further later on when combined with the sauce in the same pot.
  3. In a non-stick heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add a pinch of turmeric and swirl the pot around to evenly coat the bottom. Add a layer of the noodles, then a layer of the meat sauce,  and continue layering till both the sauce and the noodles are done. Place a clean and soft kitchen towel between the pot and the lid. Close tightly and cook on medium to low heat for about 45-50 minutes. The longer you cook it, the thicker the crust but you also don't want to risk getting it burned.
  4. To serve, place a large serving platter over the pot, and with a kitchen towel hold on to the sides of the pot and carefully turn over the pot to get the pasta with it's tah-dig intact and in one piece. Cut into it as if you are cutting a slice of a cake. Or, spoon noodles and the sauce mixture onto a platter and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Remove the crust gently and place on the side of the platter or on a separate dish.

Enjoy!

17 comments:

  1. I've had this before and it is so tasty. My favorite part is the crunchy macaroni bits. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can see this dish being a total children favourite! In Italy we cook something surprisingly similar, which is also a child's favourite, only we get the crunchy bit by baking in the oven. I think though that with your method you'll get much more crunchy part, which is great, given that it is my favourite as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh how I love love love this!! Thank you for bringing back childhood memories! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I couldn't agree more, My Persian Kitchen. The instant I saw those photos, the memories came flooding in!

    As always, thank you so much Azita. This blog takes me back home :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Would it work the same with rice noodles?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous- Yes, it should and let me know how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I got finally the hang of tah dig with rice and was proud of myself when I could make it look perfect; but I have never seen macaroni tah dig. Love it! Looks beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good... it's similar! Spaghetti al forno.. an italian recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  9. i added cumin to the recipe when i browned the meat and it added a nice dimension to the recipe. I can not wait to try some more of the recipes

    ReplyDelete
  10. I always loved when my beloved mother made this dish. We always used cheese though while doing the layering and these days I get creative and sometimes use feta, sometimes goat cheese or sometimes just plain sharp cheddar. One thing to note: you say you put in the turmeric on the onion and then add the meat. We always add turmeric to the meat. I guess it is personal preference? Thanks for your great website.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poppy, I used to add turmeric to the meat too. However, a few years ago I started adding it to the onions while frying. I believe it makes the meat taste better and gets the meaty smell out faster.

      Delete
  11. This was amazing. Had one problem though followed everything but my tadig was stuck and I had to scrap it out. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My suggestion is to use a nonstick pan and also add a little more oil to the bottom of the pan.

      Delete
  12. How long do you let this dish cook an electric Rice Cooking Pot that makes Tah-Dig automatically? Tnx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends on the type of the rice cooker and if it makes the bottom crust or not. Please check your rice cooker's manual. I would say 10-15 additional minutes after the rice is fully cooked.

      Delete
  13. Hi, I'd love to try this but I have banished non stick pans from the house because I have a parrot and the fumes can be deadly. Is it possible to use a normal pan without it sticking to the bottom and burning? Love your site, I am newly addicted to persian spices!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jen, thank you so much! You'll need a thick heavy-bottom pan. Try not to overheat the pan and don't overcook.

      Delete