Persian Macaroni (Spaghetti with Meat Sauce)

On my first trip to Iran, my sister-in-law took a break from traditional Persian food and made macaroni for dinner one night.  It was a cross between the very americanized spaghetti  my mother made and persian flavorings.  It was just a great comfort food, but quite tasty.  Just don’t think “Italian”.


I recently found a recipe for Persian macaroni, complete with Tah Dig (the wonderful crunchy crust) on  This is a slight variation on that recipe.  I made it and after declaring that he wouldn’t like it because there was meat in it, Cam wolfed down a large portion.


It in not a quick dish, all in all, it takes about an hour and 15 minutes.  But I guess that is considered “fast” for a Persian dish.

I think you could make this vegetarian by using soy granules, but this is one dish that I think really needs the beef.

Persian Macaroni

Adapted from

2 Tbsp canola oil, separated

1 large onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced (from the garden)

1/3 tsp turmeric

1-lb extra lean ground beef

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

15-oz can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand

16-oz can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1-lb spaghetti

1-2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley (from the garden) (I skipped it this time in deference to Cam)


In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil and saute onion over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add turmeric, stir and continue cooking another minute or two.


Add beef; brown and break into small pieces. Drain excess fat. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and water.


Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the spaghetti for 2-3 minutes shorter than package directions for al dente (the pasta will continue to cook when combined with the sauce).  Drain pasta and rinse (without rinsing the pasta will clump together before the next step).


In a non-stick pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil.  Add a pinch of turmeric and swirl to coat the bottom evenly.  Add a layer of spaghetti, then a layer of the meat sauce.


Repeat several times, ending with sauce.


Cover tightly and cook on medium-low for 40-50 minutes.  The longer it cooks, the thicker the tah dig, but you also risk burning it.

To serve, scoop out the pasta and sauce into a serving bowl.


Gently remove the tah dig.


Top with parsley and serve with a piece of tah dig.


Serves 6.






3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mahmood says:

    “Tah dig” is a piece of heaven on earth.


Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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