Meat and herb filling: Sauté the onion and leeks in a large non-stick frying pan in oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.
Add ground beef and brown the mixture until meat is cooked. Drain extra liquid.
Add the spinach, cilantro and parsley and continue to cook on med-high heat for 5 minutes.
Add the lime juice and all the spices and tomato paste and stir until evenly blended. Add 1/4 cup water if necessary but key is we don’t want this mixture to have any liquids that will prevent the rice from forming a crunchy crust.
Cook for 5 more minutes.
Turn off heat and set this mixture aside.
Rice: Place rinsed rice in a large non-stick pot. Cover with water to about 2” below top edge of pot.
Put 1 tablespoon salt in the pot. Cover with lid and turn on high heat.
When the rice comes to a full boil, remove lid. Check to see when rice has cooked to an al dente state. Usually, when the rice is raising to surface, that is a good indication. At that time, spoon out a few grains of rice and taste. If still crunchy it needs to cook a couple of minutes more.
If chewy/al dente but not totally cooked, its time to turn stove off and drain the rice.
Thadig: Drain rice in a colander. In a medium bowl put about 3 cups of cooked rice and yogurt.
Mix gently to create a sticky rice texture that is not to wet or runny. Better to start with less yogurt and keep adding by the spoonful until right consistency.
Mix in the saffron water. Start with 1 tablespoon and keep mixing in until all the rice is a vibrant yellow color but not soggy or wet.
Put the ghee in the pot and melt it on high heat.
Carefully place the sliced potatoes on bottom of pot until bottom entirely covered. Pot still on high heat so potatoes can start frying.
Gently spoon the rice yogurt mixture into bottom of pot, covering the potatoes. Once entire bottom is covered, use back of spoon to press down on rice to create a solid, compact layer. This will become the crust.
Place 1/3 of the remaining cooked rice in the pot, on top of the yogurt/rice crust mixture.
Add a layer of the meat + herb filling on top of the rice layer.
Put the rest of the rice (2/3 of rice) on top of the meat layer. Use spoon to heap the sides of the rice up to create a mound shape. Sprinkle 2 tbsp water to top of rice to help create steam.
Wrap lid in cotton cloth and place lid on top of the pot. Lower the heat to low, ensuring not to leave on high. Let the rice cook on low heat for at least 2-3 hours. The longer, the more crust will be created.
To serve, remove the lid and place a large round platter on top of the pot. Carefully invert pot/platter and place platter on counter. Lift pot and rice should slide out easily and be shaped like a cake.