Jeweled Saffron Rice recipe is elegant and impressive with brightly colored herbs, pistachios, and pomegranate arils. Easy to make, this Persian inspired recipe is perfect for your next gathering.
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If you have been following along with our Instagram stories you know I recently hosted a wedding shower for my little sister. Like me, she also has celiac disease, so I had to create a gluten-free wedding shower menu for 25.
I gave her the option of a classic brunch or a Persian inspired menu. Being the major foodie that she is, my sister chose the Persian inspired menu. Now we are not Persian, and this is definitely NOT an authentic meal, but I think we came up with a lovely menu. This Jeweled Saffron Rice was so beautiful and easy to make I had to share it on the blog! Hopefully, I will get around to posting the entire menu with links to the recipes we used and the details on the ones we created.
I was surprised that this saffron rice turned out to be the perfect dish to make for a crowd. The best part is you can reheat it and get that classic Persian rice crust or make it the day of and serve it as a saffron rice pilaf. Let’s start off with the key ingredient- saffron!
What is Saffron?
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. The vivid crimson stigmas and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in food. (Source)
Each crocus flower only produces three saffron threads, Saffron must be hand harvested making it the world’s most expensive spice.
The good news is that you just need a pinch of saffron to make saffron rice. You can purchase saffron at most grocery stores. You can also buy it online.
If you can’t find saffron or don’t want to invest the money in this spice you can substitute ground turmeric powder. It isn’t quite the same, but the taste is similar, and you will achieve the beautiful golden color. Go light if using turmeric. A very pungent spice, a little goes a long way.
How to Make Jeweled Saffron Rice
While making saffron rice is similar to any basic rice dish there are few details that make it special. First, you will need to use a thin long grain white rice such as basmati or jasmine. You can substitute brown rice, but it will have a slightly gummy texture and won’t achieve a vibrant yellow hue.
To start, soak the basmati rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse until the water runs clear. Spread the rice out on a towel or sheet pan to allow it to dry out while preparing the other ingredients.
In a medium saucepan, heat the stock on medium-low heat until warm. Crush 2 pinches of saffron between your fingers and add to the pan and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Fancier saffron rice recipes will have you turn the saffron threads into a powder using a mortar and pestle. I find that I can crush the threads enough without dirtying another dish!
Note: soaking the rice and heating the cooking liquid will decrease the overall cooking time for the rice.
In a large pan with a well-fitting lid, melt ghee over medium heat. Add the finely diced onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Next add the rice stirring constantly until rice is slightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
The stock with saffron an be poured over the rice mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook rice for 15 minutes then shut off heat and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes undisturbed. Taste the rice for salt, adjust as needed. If you prefer a richer tasting rice you can stir in 2 tablespoons of butter or vegan butter at this point.
If serving immediately stir in parsley, pistachios, and pomegranate arils. Serve with grilled chicken and a kale salad.
If you are making the rice in advanced reduce the cooking time to 13 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with foil. Store in the refrigerator up to two days. To reheat, bake covered at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in parsley, pistachios, and pomegranate arils right before serving.
The rice should have dry pilaf like texture. A crusty bottom is a good thing!
Jeweled Saffron Rice
- 2 cups white basmati rice
- 3 1/2 cups chicken stock sub vegetable stock for vegan
- 1/4-1/2 tsp saffron threads roughly 2 pinches
- 1 tbsp ghee or EVOO for vegan
- 1 small white onion, finely diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse until the water runs clear. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the stock on medium-low heat until warm. Add 2 pinches of saffron to the pan and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
- In a large pan with a well fitting lid, melt ghee over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add rice stirring constantly until rice is slightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Add stock with saffron and salt to rice mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook rice for 15 minutes then shut off heat and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.
- Taste the rice for salt, adjust as needed. Stir in parsley, pistachios, and pomegranate arils.