Chelow (Iranian Steamed White Rice): rice that is carefully prepared through soaking and parboiling, at which point the water is drained and the rice is steamed. This method results in an exceptionally fluffy rice with the grains separated, and not sticky, and also results in a golden rice crust at the bottom of the pot called tahdig (literally “bottom of the pot”), which is exceptionally popular with Iranian children.
Tahdig (Scorched or Crunchy Fried Rice)
Tahdig is the soul food of Persian cooking. It’s the crisp, golden layer of fried rice at the bottom of the rice pot, and it tastes like a combination of potato chips and popcorn, but with the delicate flavor of basmati rice. It’s made from the bottom of the pot rice crust and is served by itself or with the rice crust merged with slices of potato, flats of bread, meat, vegetable, fruit and nuts like pistachio (Tahdig is usually not printed on the menu, so you may have to ask for it.) It’s eaten as a side dish, and it’s forgivable to pick it up and eat with your fingers.
Polow: rice that is cooked exactly the same as chelow, with the exception that after draining all the water in the rice, other ingredients are added in layers or sections of the rice, and then steamed together.
Kateh: rice that is cooked until almost all the water is absorbed. This is also the traditional dish of Gilan (described in detail below).
Damy: cooked almost the same as kateh, except that the heat is reduced just after all the water is drained and a towel is placed between the lid and the pot to prevent steam from escaping. Damy literally means “simmered.”