Saffron Rice

Saffron Rice

Here’s another great rice recipe when plain basmati rice just won’t do. The saffon adds such a lovely, bright golden color to the rice, in contrast with the crimson saffron threads dispersed throughout. Saffron rice has a delicate, floral aroma that you can’t duplicate with any other spice. There are 3 secrets making this rice.

Secret #1: Use good quality saffron. Don’t buy the cheap stuff. Everyone says that saffron is the world’s most expensive spice – true if you are counting ounce per ounce. But you use so little of it each time. Here’s the key to buying saffron. The threads should be almost all bright red. If you see yellow, that means when the threads were harvested, they picked the flower portion that was STIGMA (a.k.a. expensive good stuff) and STIGMA (bad, tasteless shit). I purchase my saffron from For $40, I get the absolute best quality stuff and it will last me many, many scrumptious dishes. Another note on using saffron – you should soak the threads in a little bit of hot water to really open up the spice and release its flavor. Use the threads+soaking water in your dish.

Secret #2: Fry onions before steaming the rice. It gives rice an earthy, caramelized onion flavor. You can substitute minced shallots for the onions.

Secret #3: Salt. Everything tastes better with salt. This rice comes alive when you add something salty to it. In this recipe, I used broth instead of water to steam the rice. Use fresh, canned or concentrated broth base. Now its time to be creative. Use secrets #2 and #3 and make your own rice recipe with your favorite spices. Here are some of my favorite combinations. – Cumin + a couple tablespoonfuls of tomato paste for Mexican rice – Dried oregano + basil (basically any dried leafy herb mixture) – Curry powder + raisins – A few dashes of soy sauce + sesame oil + minced green onions after the rice is done steaming – Garlic powder + stir in chopped fresh parsley after rice is done steaming – Any of the above + stir in thawed frozen peas after rice is done steaming.


Saffron Basmati Rice

Servings: 4-6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes


2 cups Basmati Rice
3 ½ cups Broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 pinch Saffron threads soaked in 2T hot water for 10 minutes
1 tsp Salt
2 T olive oil
½ cup diced onions


1. Wash and drain the rice. In 4-qt pot, heat with olive oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and fry for 3 minutes, until softened and light brown. Stir in rice, broth, saffron + soaking water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Once it starts boiling, immediately cover and turn to low heat.

3. Let the rice cook on low heat, undisturbed (no peeking!) for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit for another 5 minutes covered to finish steaming. Use a fork to fluff up the rice.

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Comments 14

  1. tigerfish

    I always cannot resist the saffron rice offered at a Indian restaurant near my place. It’s buffet so I’m supposed to eat less rice and more dishes…but the saffron rice is so aromatic…I just could not resist.
    Oh, now I’m feeling worse just by looking at this saffron rice you have whipped up.

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    I am so glad that I had the chance to stumble upon your site – this recipe looks outstanding and judging from your great pictures, it is. I am definitely going to give this a shot very soon. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Slobby

    So you do not throw the threads in with the rice? the soaked water will hae all of the flavor and color?

  8. Slobby

    BTW: I think you mean STLYE on the latter?
    “If you see yellow, that means when the threads were harvested, they picked the flower portion that was STIGMA (a.k.a. expensive good stuff) and STIGMA (bad, tasteless shit).”

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  11. Viraj

    I made this tonight for a potluck- even after doubling the recipe it was gone before I got to the table! I’ll just have to assume it was a hit and make it again on my own someday, haha!

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