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By: Chef Laura Bonicelli

Indian-style Saffron Rice is a beautifully colored, sweet, savory, and crunchy rice dish.

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saffron rice

about Indian-style Saffron Rice

Indian-style Saffron Rice is full of surprises. First of all, the color is gorgeous and unexpected. Along with that color comes the earthy background flavor from the saffron threads. For me, appreciating saffron’s taste took some time. But I love it now. A little saffron goes a long way in both flavoring and coloring a dish. That’s okay because it’s arguably the most expensive spice on the planet. It’s the stigma of the crocus flower; harvested by hand. It takes about 150 plants to yield 1 gram of saffron. Secondly, the addition of raisins and the cardamom and cinnamon’s background sweetness sets the dish apart.

putting Indian-style Saffron Rice together

To make Indian-style Saffron Rice, you do have a little soaking to do. Soaking will give the rice a head start on the cooking process. The liquid from the saffron becomes part of the cooking liquid, so don’t discard it. You don’t want to throw away any of that beautiful flavor or color.
Toasting the spices intensifies their flavor and certainly gives you an idea of the goodness to come. It only takes 30 seconds. You can always make Indian-style Saffron Rice in your rice cooker.

Usually, I discard the cardamom pods when I make Indian-style Saffron Rice. If the actual seeds come out of the pods, and they will, I leave them whole. The cinnamon sticks I leave in the dish. I’m not concerned that anyone would accidentally eat them because they’re too big; I like the way they look.

Eat well and have fun!

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uncooked rice
saffron rice

I hope you love this recipe! 

Buon Appetito!

Step by Step Instructions

saffron rice

Indian-style Saffron Rice

© Chef Laura Bonicelli
Indian-style Saffron Rice is a beautifully colored, sweet, savory, and crunchy rice dish.
5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
30 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Dinner, MM-Blue, Sides
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 321 kcal


  • 1 cup basmati rice


  • 1 generous pinch saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup hot tap water


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic -- minced
  • 4 green cardamom pods -- slightly smashed
  • 1 3- inch stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 20 whole almonds


  • Soak the rice for 30 minutes in warm water; drain.
  • Soak the saffron in 1/4 cup hot water for 20 minutes.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot. Add the garlic cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Cook, constantly stirring for 30 seconds. The seeds will start to pop.
  • Add the rice, salt, water, and saffron with its liquid. Bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the rice and stir in the raisins and almonds.

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Calories: 321kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 5gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 300mgPotassium: 240mgFiber: 3gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 3IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 1mg
Keyword almonds, golden raisins, saffron
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