If you’ve ever had bibimbap in a stone pot, you know the rice at the bottom of the bowl starts to turn brown and crispy as you dig your way through the meal. It turns out that tanned clump of rice is a big deal in Persian cooking. Known as tahdig, it’s an extremely popular dish. “At Iranian family feasts, tahdig is possibly the one dish that will disappear entirely from the table — there are simply no leftovers. Ever,” writes Louisa Shafia at The Splendid Table. She describes the taste as somewhere between popcorn and fried chicken.
The technique for making tahdig involves boiling the rice, frying the crispy layer, then cooking it again. Soheil Shahrooz hopes to simplify the process with his Crispy Rice Cooker. “We wanted to bring a staple of traditional cultures to the new age,” he tells Digital Trends. He and his wife, Dr. Dorsay Nia Shahrooz, started the company, and his brother, Sepehr Seeno Shahrooz, is the vice president and head of marketing.
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“It takes years to perfect a recipe and the method of cooking it,” says Shahrooz. Even experienced chefs can botch the process, he said. The cooker is designed to be foolproof. Essentially, it’s as easy as adding your ingredients and pushing a button. While you can make white rice, the cooker will automatically shift to “fry mode” once it’s done cooking. You can set the timer to between 15 and 20 minutes to dictate how crispy you want your tahdig.
The cooker can make between one and three cups of rice at a time. In addition to making both plain rice and tahdig, the Crispy Rice Cooker will also steam and broil food, so you could make other dishes in it as well. Solus Brands, Shahrooz’s company, plans to include a recipe book when the cooker starts shipping.
The Crispy Rice Cooker might seem like a bit of a niche product (“My family is actually very passionate about having soft and fluffy rice,” said one of my friends when I showed the device), but that’s why it’s perfect for Kickstarter. You can pre-order one now for $40, with shipping expected in September 2016. The company has a working prototype but still is still awaiting testing and compliance with some regulations. As with all crowdfunding projects, it’s backer beware.