Zafrani rice – Saffron rice


In all the years I have been blogging – I have realised that I have never blogged about the recipe for plain rice as I always thought that it was such an easy dish to cook that everyone would know how to cook rice.

However, when I started to teach cooking, I was surprised to hear time and time comments like: “My rice was rock hard” or “My rice gets soggy, sticky, hard etc.” or  “I can never cook rice without a rice cooker” etc…  My tip to my friends and learners is always the following:

1.  Always use Basmati rice and if possible one of the better varieties (Rice sold in Jute bags is a good make).
2. Always wash the rice in plenty of cold water and  soak the rice in cold water for as long as you can.
3. Cook rice like you would cook pasta in lots of water and  as soon as it looks cooked – add cold water to it and drain it.  If it looks slightly al dente – you can always add a couple of spoonfuls of water and finish cooking in the microwave.

The recipe below is great to make when you are entertaining as the scent of saffron always impresses the guests.

Ingredients for 4 Servings

• 2 cups basmati rice
• 4 cardamom pods
• 2-3 cinnamon sticks (plus a couple of cloves)
• 1 heaped teaspoon butter or vegan substitute like Vitalite
• 1 tsp salt
• Pinch or two Saffron
• Some curry leaves


1. Wash the rice in cold water gently changing water several times until the water appears clear and soak it for at least 30 minutes. (The longer it is soaked the better it cooks).

2. After 30 minutes, fill a large saucepan with water and heat the water until the water is boiling. Lower the heat. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Add the salt and cardamom pods and curry leaves. Allow the rice to cook for 5 -7 minutes. Don’t stir the rice repeatedly as the rice grains will break and make the rice mushy

3. Whilst the rice is cooking soak the saffron in 2 tablespoons of warm water (you can also use milk to soak the saffron).

4. Watch the rice. As soon as it looks cooked (almost al dente) – add some cold water to the rice and drain it using a colander. Transfer the rice to a microwave proof dish.

5. In a clean saucepan, heat the butter and add the cinnamon sticks (can also use 2-3 cloves) to the butter.

6. Pour the butter or vegan substitute over the rice. Also also add the saffron with the water/milk to the rice.

7. Cover the dish and cook it for 2 minutes in the microwave. ( It’s up to you whether you wish to leave the curry leaves, cardamom and cinnamon in the rice whilst serving)

8. Serve with any curry

More options:

1. You can also add peas whilst cooking the rice.
2. You can garnish the rice with 4-5 cashews to make it look rich.

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