Saffron Infused Basmati Rice

I have a foodie friend from a country in the Arabian peninsula, who after a few years working in DC, has just decided to return to live and work in his home country. So obviously I offered to help take any left over stock of Iranian saffron off his DC shelves to ease the move!

Well, a package arrived today with 4 envelopes of saffron! Naturally, I did a happy dance. Then sent him a message with my profuse thanks, and decided it was time to make basmati! And I get a chance to use my beautiful stone mortar and pestle, oooh win.

Saffron Infused Basmati Rice

Prep Time 10 minutes; Cook Time 20 minutes; Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 cup long grain basmati, rinsed twice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 hefty pinches of saffron threads
  • 2 cups boiling water, separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cube of chicken bouillon


  1. First, add your saffron to your mortar, and ground it into a powder. It will smell pungent and exotic.
  2. Place a kettle on to get your water boiling and ready.
  3. Place a 2 quart covered saucepan on high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  4. Add your pressed garlic. Or press them directly, like I do on lazy days. Stir and enjoy your house start to smell like magic.
  5. Add your rinsed basmati. Any rice not produced in the US will need to be rinsed thoroughly. US rice is pre washed, but my mom still rinses all rice. It’s easy, just measure your dry rice into a big bowl, fill over the level of rice with water from the tap, get your fingers wet, circling the rice around. The water will get cloudy with the starch… drain the water out, try not to lose too many grains. Fill with water again and repeat.
  6. Now, after your rice is drained, and added to the garlic and olive oil, give it a little time to cook off any left over water from rinsing, and infuse with the flavor of the oil and garlic. Stir occasionally for about a minute.
  7. Now is the time to add a cup of the boiling water to the mortar and let it steep for a minute.
  8. When your rice starts to sizzle and you smell the garlic again, it’s time to add your steeped and aromatic saffron “tea” to your rice. It will sizzle and smell amazing. Then add a second cup of boiling water, toss in your chicken bouillon cube and a pinch of salt if you like your food salty. I left it out.
  9. Cover and cook on medium low for 20 minutes.
  10. Uncover, fluff and serve, your rice will be yellow and smell amazing and you will enjoy a subtle creamy taste!

Yield 4 servings

Serving Size 3/4 cup


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