gluten-free sides

Easy Saffron Rice

March 29, 2021

Spice up your rice with this delicious and easy saffron rice recipe. Made with basmati rice, high-quality saffron threads and stock, you will never go back to your basic, boring rice recipe again.

The other day I was chatting with my friend Sahar about how much we love saffron. To be fair, we were discussing it more in the context of skincare (particularly this saffron facial serum) but Sahar was teaching me about how saffron is often used in skincare and haircare products in Pakistan and India. It got me thinking about one of my favorite saffron recipes, easy saffron rice, which I used to make all the time.

A little secret for you: One of the reasons I stopped making saffron rice as often was because when we moved to California I couldn’t just go over to Mama Maven’s to steal some of her saffron. Because in case you didn’t know, saffron is expensive and in my early 20s I could still justify shopping from my parent’s pantry.

But now I’m a full-fledged adult and I really can’t justify it anymore. So I bought a small amount of saffron from an ethically sourced company called Rumi. I was 100% influenced by the name but thankfully the product holds up and now saffron rice is back on the meal plan.

The History of Saffron Rice

Saffron rice is a common dish across many areas of the world. Most commonly it is used in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. It is also found in Persian cooking across the Middle East and even in other parts of Asia such as in Thai cooking (where it is made with jasmine rice and mixed with fish sauce).

Traditionally it is made with white basmati rice and can be found in both sweet & savory versions.

What is saffron? Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. Good quality saffron has an earthy, floral flavor. It can taste a bit sweet to some. Poor quality saffron can have a bitter taste to it so avoid the cheap stuff if you can.

What You Need for Saffron Rice

  • Basmati rice – stick to white basmati rice or white jasmine rice if that’s all you have
  • Chicken stock – you can also use vegetable stock if vegan or vegetarian
  • Olive oil
  • Saffron
  • Turmeric
  • Sea Salt

Tips for Cooking with Saffron

1. Invest in good quality saffron – saffron can be a bit pricey but it’s important to invest in good-quality saffron. The fake stuff lacks the true aromatic flavors and just isn’t worth it. Also look to purchase fair trade from areas of the world where saffron is typically grown – These days 90% of saffron is grown in Iran.

2. A little bit goes a long way – even though saffron can be expensive, a little bit goes a long way so you do not need to purchase a lot of it.

3. Always soak your saffron in hot water – this helps to release the aromatic flavors that are then infused into your saffron rice.

How to Make Saffron Rice

STEP 1: Add saffron to mortar and using a pestle grind up saffron until it reaches a powdery consistency. Add your 1/4 cup of hot water directly to the pestle and stir to combine. Set aside.

STEP 2: Add your chicken or vegetable stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the stock is boiling add in your saffron/water mix, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Stir well. Add rice and bring mixture back up to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover tightly with a lid. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

STEP 3: Turn off heat and let rice sit, covered with lid for 5-10 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.

What to Pair with Saffron Rice

There are so many ways to use your saffron rice. You can replace your regular rice recipe or pair with any of these delicious recipes listed below.

Print

Easy Saffron Rice

Spice up your rice with this delicious and easy saffron rice recipe. Made with basmati rice, high-quality saffron threads and stock, you will never go back to your basic, boring rice recipe again.

  • Author: Davida Lederle
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Persian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • 3 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads (+ 1/4 cup hot water)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Add saffron to mortar and using a pestle grind up saffron until it reaches a powdery consistency.
  2. Add your 1/4 cup of hot water directly to the pestle and stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Add your chicken or vegetable stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Once the stock is boiling add in your saffron/water mix, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Stir well.
  5. Add rice and bring mixture back up to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover tightly with a lid.
  6. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and let rice sit, covered with lid for 5-10 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.

Keywords: saffron rice, turmeric rice, yellow rice

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