Basmati Rice with Saffron is aromatic, pretty and utterly delicious. This a fantastic compliment to almost anything . . . meats, fish, vegetables, you name it! And it will brighten the table with its stunning, vibrant color.
Saffron: It's red, it's gold, it's alluring, and so beautiful. Not to mention it's delicious.
Just a touch of saffron in a recipe can elevate it to a higher level. This Basmati Rice with Saffron and Dill is the perfect example. An otherwise simple rice dish becomes exquisite -- both in appearance and taste.
- Saffron threads - Saffron is available in most large grocery stores and specialty markets. I usually use this Spanish saffron.
- Basmati rice - Basmati is a long-grained, aromatic rice that you should be able to find easily in most grocery stores.
- olive oil - Regular or extra virgin.
- fresh dill
- Kosher salt - I cook with Kosher salt. I prefer it over other salts for a few reasons: its larger flake, it's less refined and usually doesn't contain additives, and it does a great job enhancing the flavor of foods without making it taste salty.
- If it's just the color you want, you can use Turmeric to substitute saffron. If you look at this Spicy Turmeric-Coconut Rice, you can see how similar the color is. The color of the turmeric is similar to that of the saffron -- though the flavor is quite different. Try them both for fun.
- Fennel or cilantro would be nice substitutions for the dill.
How to Make it
- Add the pinch of saffron threads to a mortar. Use the pestle to grind the spice until it's a powder. This should only take a few seconds, and will yield less than ⅛ teaspoon, which is all you need.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of the water to the mortar and then pour this, along with the remaining water into a medium-sized soup pot. Bring it to a very gentle simmer and then turn off the heat. Let it steep for at least 15 minutes.
- Pour the rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly, and then add it to the pot, along with the salt and olive oil. Gently stir and then bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook just until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Fold in the dill and serve.
- Rice is an excellent choice as a side dish for so many dishes -- especially those with sauces, like Skillet Sweet Potato Braised Chicken, Cabbage Stew with Turmeric and Short Rib Stew with Swiss Chard.
- It can turn vegetables into a hearty meal. I often serve it with Confit Tomatoes, Cardamom Carrots or Cumin Roasted Vegetables.
- With any of these suggestions, a side salad would round the meal off perfectly.
More Outstanding Rice Dishes
Can you make it ahead?
Absolutely! This saffron rice can be made a day ahead of time. It can be warmed in a covered container in a or the oven set about 300℉ just to heat it through, approximately 15 minutes.
Saffron Rice FAQs
- Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. In the world! And for very good reasons.
-Saffron threads are the stigmas of the Crocus flower, which is native to the Mediterranean and western Asia. (Inside each Crocus flower are only three stigmas, among other reproductive parts. Stamens, which holds the pollen in place are yellowish and the stigmas reddish orange threads.)
- The Crocus flower is a very high-maintenance flower that only blooms for one week of the year.
- The stigmas must be very carefully hand picked, and it takes about 80,000 flowers to produce 1-pound of saffron!
- When the stunning red threads are hit with liquid, they immediately turn a deep, rich golden color.
- The intense gold color, is said to be an indication that the saffron has medicinal qualities, like powerful antioxidants that can protect the body.
- Here's a great article on the colorful History of Saffron.
The flavor of saffron can be described as floral, buttery and earthy. A little will go a long way to color and flavor a dish it's added to.
Basmati Rice with Saffron brightens any plate with its color and flavor, and I hope you love it!
Basmati Rice with Saffron Recipe
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh dill, washed and dried, roughly chopped
- Prepare the saffron. Add the pinch of saffron threads to a mortar. Use the pestle to grind the spice until it's a powder. This should only take a few seconds, and will yield less than ⅛ teaspoon, which is all you need.
- Steep the saffron. Add about 2 tablespoons of the water to the mortar and then pour this, along with the remaining water into a medium-sized soup pot. Bring it to a very gentle simmer and then turn off the heat. Let it steep for at least 15 minutes.
- Cook the rice. Now pour the rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly, and then add it to the pot, along with the salt and olive oil.Gently stir and then bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook just until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Fold in the dill and serve!
Cooking On The Weekends is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Such beautiful color - and flavor! This will go beautifully with my Persian-spiced fish (NYTimes)!
Thanks, David. I hadn't worked with saffron in a while and now I can't stop! More to come. Enjoy & happy weekend. 🙂
Saffron is such a beautiful spice!! This Basmati rice looks phenomenal - the color looks incredible! 🙂
Thank you! I agree - a beautiful spice, indeed. 🙂
I love these flavors together and Basmati rice is my favorite rice varieties, thank you for sharing this. It's delicious.
Thank you so much, Sara. I hope you try it and enjoy! 🙂
I adore saffron! It has the most unique flavor! Now I think I have some for dinner!
I love it, Beth. Thanks!
One of the most elegant and exotic rice dishes I've seen. The saffron is a beautiful touch and I love the fresh dill. This is wonderful. xo, Catherine
Many thanks, Catherine! 🙂