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Fragrant Saffron Rice

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This recipe for Saffron Rice is what I call special rice. I have a handful of recipes for special rice and none would be considered difficult to make. The additional prep time is no more than five or ten minutes yet I just don’t make them on a regular basis.

As an everyday home cook I most often make plain old white rice. White rice cooks in twenty minutes and many days my dinner is timed around that. Brown rice takes forty-five minutes and…sorry but I’m finished eating by then.

To clarify, when I say plain old white rice I mean either fragrant Thai Jasmine rice or the aromatic, long grain basmati rice from India. (I’ve never thought of myself as a rice snob but that is highly possible.)

What is Special Rice?

Over the years I have collected my favourite rice recipes. Each has a unique flavour combination or ingredient that elevates the rice itself. They are all associated with a specific ethnic cuisine. These include a classic French rice pilaf, Thai Jasmine Coconut Rice, Fruited Rice Pilaf with pine nuts and this Saffron Rice recipe. Over time I will add them to my list of should be on the blog.

These recipes are perfect to add to your menu when you are entertaining but don’t wait for that. One day when you pull something out of the freezer for dinner treat yourself to this special Saffron Rice. I serve it with this recipe for grilled achiote chicken with balsamic marinated grilled vegetables but try it with any plain chicken or food with a Spanish, Mexican or South Western flare.

Saffron Threads for Saffron Rice

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice but don’t let that discourage you from buying it. For less than the cost of a bottle of wine you can purchase a tiny box of saffron threads, hand picked from Spain. It may last you more than a year but to help you use it you can start by making paella.

Let me know in the comments below if anyone in your house commented on the amazing aroma in the kitchen while this saffron rice was cooking. In my house we think it is almost as wonderful as the taste of the rice itself.


1 tsp saffron threads
¼ cup olive oil
½ onion, finely minced
2 tsp finely minced garlic
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups water


Toast the saffron in a small, non-stick frying pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Continuously shake the pan to prevent burning. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat combine the oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir for about 2 minutes, then add the rice. Stir constantly until all the grains of rice are covered in oil, about 2 minutes.
Add water and stir so all the rice settles to the bottom. Add the toasted saffron (without stirring) and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed, 25-30 minutes.
Gently stir in the saffron as you transfer the rice to a serving bowl or plates.
NOTE – This is a large recipe but I think it is worth making the whole thing. It keeps in the fridge for several days and can be enjoyed with many ordinary dinners.