Recipe: Saffron Cumin Rice

I saw a reference to Saffron Rice in some recipes I was browsing while thinking about what to cook last Sunday. The name intrigued me and I got thinking about how this recipe would look and taste. So I tried making my version and the result was a delicious, fragrant but simple dish which I put together in less than 15 minutes of prep time plus cooking time.

Saffron is a very exotic and expensive spice. It is derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. The vivid crimson stigmata and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Although some doubts remain on its origin, it is believed that saffron originated in Iran, but Greece and Mesopotamia have also been suggested as the possible region of origin of this plant.

Saffron is a powerful antioxidant and is said to have cancer fighting properties. It is also said to reduce heart disease risk factors, lower blood sugar levels and improve eyesight in adults with age-related macular degeneration. It may improve memory in adults with Alzheimer’s disease

Saffron and Cumin Rice


  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste


  • Soak the basmati rice for 20-30 minutes and drain and keep aside.
  • Warm the milk in a small container and then put one pinch of the saffron and let the saffron dissolve in the milk.
  • Heat the ghee in a pan and when warm, add the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds splutter and then crush the remaining saffron with your fingertips and add to the ghee.
  • Add the turmeric powder and stir for a couple of seconds. The turmeric is added to enhance the colour of the rice plus for its antiseptic properties. So you can omit it if you want.
  • Next add the soaked rice and stir for a few minutes. Stir the dissolved saffron and milk and add this to the rice. Mix well.
  • Add the salt (approximately 1 tsp per cup of rice) and stir well.
  • Transfer to a rice cooker, add the water and cook until it is done. Let it sit in the rice cooker for 10 minutes and then fluff the rice. Serve hot with any gravy vegetable.
  • If you are cooking using the stove top, add the water to the rice while using the pan to fry the rice, then cook it until it is al-dente. Keep an eye on the rice and add more water if needed.

I served this rice with a yummy kadhai vegetable, the recipe which I will share very soon