Steamy, filling and very aromatic, Persian saffron rice is prepared using white rice, fried onions, and saffron strands. It is a savory side dish with a pleasant yellow color that comes together in under 30 minutes (gluten-free, can be made vegan).
About This Recipe
Saffron Rice is a super easy, buttery, and elegant side dish with a touch of richness and royalty. Made using white rice, saffron, and fried onion, it just makes your festive meals even better.
Persian Saffron Rice has a tinge of yellow from the generous use of saffron in it. As saffron is considered to be one of the most expensive ingredients, it makes this rice recipe a rich one.
This rice is buttery, and the subtle elegant flavor and the golden hue from saffron make it a crowd favorite. Super easy to make, it comes together in under 30 minutes.
With the delicate floral aroma of saffron and the pretty yellow color, this rice is perfect to make for special occasions or festivals.
Not only in Middle East, but this one is popular in other countries too. For Instance, the Trinidad Saffron Rice is Caribbean style preparation where rice is cooked with coconut oil, veggies, and raisins. The saffron they refer to is not the spice saffron, but the color saffron which comes from the use of turmeric.
Then there is an Italian Saffron Rice which has lots of Parmesan Cheese in it and Spanish rice with saffron with tomatoes and bell peppers.
This Persian Saffron Rice is,
- Easy + Quick
- Gluten Free
- Just like the restaurant one
- Perfect for festive meals
Rice – I prefer using long grain basmati rice for this Saffron Rice recipe, as they turn out separate, fluffy, and aromatic on its own. But if you like, you can use any other white rice of your choice.
Saffron – Saffron is one of the most expensive spices, and so it is very prone to adulteration. Use the best quality saffron sourced from a trusted brand.
Butter – Use butter for extra richness. You can also use ghee instead of butter. In case you want to make it vegan, you can use any vegetable oil of your choice.
Broth – Rice is cooked in vegetable broth, which adds a distinct flavour of its own. You can either make vegetable broth at home or use the store bought one. If vegetable broth is not available, use water instead.
Salt elevates the taste of this dish a lot. If using vegetable broth, keep a check on the quantity of salt though as it also has some added salt in it.
Fried Onion – This is optional, but highly recommended. Top in your saffron rice with some beautifully crispy fried onions. It will take this saffron rice a notch level higher. Check out my easy recipe to make fried onion at home.
How to make Saffron Rice?
Start by washing 2 cups of long grain basmati rice 2-3 times with water until the water runs clear. Washing the rice gets rid of the extra starch and makes it fluffier after cooking. Drain the rice and keep it aside.
Heat 2 tablespoon salted butter in a large size pan.
Once the butter is hot, add the drained rice to the pan and saute it for a minute on medium heat.
Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, 2 pinch saffron strands, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pan and mix gently using a spatula.
Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Open the lid and fluff the rice gently with a fork. Garnish with fried onions and serve hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use brown rice to make saffron brown rice. It will be healthier but the taste will be definitely not like when made with basmati rice. Also if using brown rice, the cooking time and amount of water used will be slightly more than white rice.
Jasmine rice works well in this recipe too. Treat it just like basmati rice.
Add all the ingredients to the pot of the rice cooker and close the lid. Cook until rice is done and all the liquid is absorbed.
To make a healthier version of this rice, you can replace rice grains with cauliflower rice which basically is grated cauliflower.
To make cauliflower saffron rice, reduce the amount of broth to 2 tablespoon and make a stir fry kind of rice using the below-mentioned ingredients and recipe.
To make saffron rice with chicken, saute the chicken pieces until browned from both sides in butter and then add the rice and the remaining ingredients. You can make this rice with lamb, fish or shrimp too.
Pro Tips by Neha
Use the best quality saffron. Saffron is a very expensive ingredient and a lot of people sell fake saffron which looks exactly like the real one but the flavor is no match. Make sure to buy saffron from a trusted source. Good saffron has long bright red threads, so look for it.
For a more profound saffron flavor, you can soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon warm water for 5-6 hours. It’s called blooming the saffron.
Use long grain basmati rice to make this recipe. The flavor and texture of this rice are unmatchable.
Make sure to rinse the rice to get the fluffiest cooked rice.
Rice: Water Ratio: The amount of liquid used to cook the rice should be accurate. If it’s more, rice will turn out mushy and if it’s less, it will burn.
Cook the rice on very low heat and tightly covered. It will make sure the resulting rice is fluffy and nicely cooked.
Do not disturb the rice while cooking. Do not open the lid otherwise, the steam will escape and rice will not cook properly.
You can make this rice with peas too. Dried herbs, onion powder, garlic powder, raisins, nuts are some other ingredients that can be added to this rice dish.
You can serve this saffron yellow rice as a side dish with any gravy, sautéed vegetables, kebabs, or grilled chicken.
Any Middle Eastern flavor main course can be paired with this rice.
You can also serve it with creamy and rich Indian curries and dals for that royal feast.
Refrigerate the leftover in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Re heat in a microwave or a pan. Splash a little water while reheating if the rice feels dry.
You can also freeze the rice in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw before reheating.
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Saffron Rice Recipe
- 2 cups long grain basmati rice
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 pinch saffron
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup fried onion
- Start by washing 2 cups of long grain basmati rice 2-3 times with water until the water runs clear. Washing the rice gets rid of the extra starch and makes it fluffier after cooking. Drain the rice and keep it aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoon salted butter in a large size pan.
- Once the butter is hot, add the drained rice to the pan and saute it for a minute on medium heat.
- Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, 2 pinch saffron strands, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pan and mix gently using a spatula.
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Remove the pan from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Open the lid and fluff the rice gently with a fork. Garnish with fried onions and serve hot.