“This is a delicious Persian dish of layered meat and rice. It may not look like much from the outside, but the combination of the crunchy outer crust, the soft inner rice and the melt-in-your-mouth lamb is irresistible. Lamb neck fillet is an inexpensive cut that still has lots of flavour – perfect for slow cooking. ”
Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, then pick and finely chop the parsley.
Heat 1 splash of oil in a pan over a medium heat, then add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes, or until soft and sticky.
Add the lamb and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring in the cumin, coriander and garlic for the last 2 minutes.
Put the stock cube into the pan along with enough boiling water to just cover the meat. Bring to the boil, season and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 1½ hours, or until the meat is tender (you should be able to cut the meat with a spoon).
Now remove the lid and boil away most of the cooking liquid, until you have a thick gravy, then stir in half of the parsley (saving the rest to serve) and season. Set aside.
Meanwhile, start the rice. Place a large pan of salted water over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Wash the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear, then add it to the pan. Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until it’s almost cooked but the grains still have some bite.
Drain in a colander and cool under cold running water. Allow the rice to drain completely.
In a bowl, mix together the yoghurt, egg and lemon juice and season well. Set aside a quarter of the yoghurt mixture, then stir the rest of it into half of the cooked rice.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas 5.
In a large, heavy-based iron pot or casserole dish, melt the butter over a medium heat, brushing some up the sides of the pan.
Pack the yoghurty rice into the base of the pan in one layer, then spread the lamb on top in another even layer.
Mix the remaining rice with the leftover yoghurt mix, then use it to top the lamb. Cover with the lid or a layer of well-sealed foil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, then remove the lid and bake for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until you can see a dark golden crust all around the edge of the rice.
When your dish is cooked, lower the pot into a sink of cold water for 1 minute (being careful the water doesn’t get in), then run a knife around the inside. This will help release the rice from the pot.
Working quickly, place a large platter or board on top of the pot and invert it, so the tah chin comes out. Don’t worry if it isn’t completely rigid – the bottom layer of rice will be softer, but you should have a crunchy golden crust on top.
Serve your tah chin topped with the rest of the chopped parsley, pomegranate seeds, and some extra yoghurt on the side, if you like.