In Farsi, tah means bottom, while chin suggests the idea of layering; tah-chin is the unpretentious, crusty rice layered with chicken that has absorbed every last drop of the warm saffron and melted butter lying at the bottom of the pan. The result is a slice of saffron goodness that is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and usually covered in fresh pistachios and sour barberries, which complement the sweetness of the moist, buttery rice.
Hidden in the meandering alleys of the Iranian capital’s Grand Bazaar, behind the screaming street traders selling dried figs, raw pistachios and brightly coloured hijabs, Moslem is on the first floor of a dull-looking building and, although popular with Iranians, it remains largely unknown to the growing number of foreign tourists. No one there speaks English, so I ask my neighbours in the queue if they can help me out.
The Dasht-e Lut desert, one of the Earth’s hottest and driest places, is a (hardy) trekker’s dream, with incredible rock formations, sand dunes, salt plains and the Valley of Meteorites – imposing landscapes that enchanted Marco Polo and, 700 years later, Wilfred Thesiger.
A walking tour based around the eponymous 1934 travelogue by the explorer Freya Stark, showcasing the greener side of Iran, traditional villages, the castles of the “assassins” and Alborz mountain hikes. The trip includes a stay with the Shahsevan nomadic tribe, a visit to Tabriz’s blue mosque and Unesco world heritage bazaar.
It takes four days to reach the summit of the country’s highest mountain, a 5,671-metre volcano. Base camp is two hours from Tehran, making Damavand one of the most accessible 5,000-metre-plus mountains in the world. If all goes to plan, this seven-day trip includes two days’ recovery in Larijan’s thermal spring and Tehran.