Authentic Middle Eastern Saffron Rice

This Authentic Middle Eastern Saffron Rice is a simple pilaf made with saffron scented basmati rice, sultanas, and pine nuts. It’s a versatile gluten free and vegan side dish.

I’m excited to be participating in the virtual launch of a new cookbook by Faith Gorsky of the beautiful An Edible Mosaic blog!

An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky. The book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. · The book is available to order on Amazon.

An Edible Mosaic is one of my favorite blogs. Faith is a talented writer, photographer, and cook, and her site is a treat for the senses. We share similar sensibilities and tastes, so I always find inspiration in her posts, and drool over her recipes. I was thrilled when she asked me to help her get the word out about her new book. This recipe for Saffron Rice is from the book, which debuted this week.

The book is a perfect introduction to Middle Eastern foods, methods, and recipes. You’ll be gently lured out of your comfort zone, but guided every step of the way. Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my favorites, but there are very few good cookbooks on the subject in this country. Faith’s book is a must have for anyone with eclectic tastes who wants to explore the food of this region.

This rice was fluffy, softly scented, and delicious. It’s subtle enough that it won’t overwhelm the other dishes on the table, and I think it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. I definitely recommend adding the optional spices listed at the end of the recipe, they add even more fragrance and flavor to the dish. I garnished the rice with pomegranate seeds just for fun. This rice is a simpler version of the PERSIAN JEWELED RICE that I made a couple of months ago.

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.
Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking
1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)
1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then ?uff with a fork.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.


More basmati rice recipes ~


Don’t forget to pin this Saffron Rice

Saffron Rice is a simple but delightfully different side dish made with saffron scented basmati rice, sultanas, and pine nuts. It's gluten free and vegan! #rice #sidedish #thanksgiving #Christmas #middleeastern #glutenfree #vegan #vegetarian #pilaf #pomegranate #healthy


You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    November 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    5 stars
    Hello Sue, I’m a recent reader (via Dani BP) and really enjoy reading your recipes. I tried this one out at the weekend and it worked perfectly (I’m never too sure about cooking rice, we usually use the rice cooker). It was delicious, thank you!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    5 stars
    Looks beautiful and taste wonderful


  • Reply
    kim - Liv Life
    November 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Your blue bowl is just beautiful!!! Most of my dishes are white, but recently I’ve been looking at colors, and I’m loving them. So pretty with the yellow of the rice. And your pomegranate seeds on top is a wonderful idea!!

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    November 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Yum! Your rice looks great! I love the pop of color from the pomegranate 🙂

  • Reply
    November 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I am so happy to have you participating in my virtual book launch party! Thank you so, so much for your beautiful post, Sue. I am honored…and so happy you enjoyed the dish!

  • Reply
    Cathy at Wives with Knives
    November 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    What a lovely dish, Sue. We love rice and I’m always happy when I find a new and beautiful way to serve it. Love the addition of raisins and pine nuts and the vibrant pomegranate seeds are a perfect garnish. Stunning photos!

  • Reply
    My Kitchen Stories.
    November 10, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Hey love the addition of Pommegrante to this rice. Your rice looks gorgeously yellow and juicy. Mmm

  • Reply
    Asiya @ Chocolate and Chillies
    November 10, 2012 at 5:12 am

    What a wonderful pop of colour with the pomegranate! It was such a great rice..I’ve made it twice already and also the White and Yellow rice which also turned out great!

  • Reply
    Amy (Savory Moments)
    November 10, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I’m glad to be finding all of these new blogs through Faith’s book launch. I love the pomegranate that you added to the rice – it’s very pretty.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2012 at 1:20 am

    What a beautiful dish! This sounds delicious too.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!


Get my tips, tricks & recipes for easy

foolproof baking


logo png