Feb 23, 2011

Saffron Rice Recipe

This easy recipe for saffron rice hails from the south of Thailand, where it is often eaten with roast chicken. Saffron rice makes dinner extra special, and is nearly as easy to make as regular rice. You needn't own a rice cooker to make this recipe - it's boiled in a pot on the stove, but tastes very similar to steamed rice. And unlike most saffron rice recipes, this one is fat-free. Note: Because saffron is so expensive, I only use a little bit, then enhance the color by adding turmeric - a spice which also has incredible health benefits (in Thailand, turmeric is known as 'poor man's saffron'). Enjoy!

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

Yield: SERVES 4 as a Side Dish



  • SERVES 4
  • 2 cups white Thai jasmine-scented rice, OR substitute white basmati rice (Note: brown rice is not successful with this recipe)
  • 3 1/2 cups good-tasting chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1.5 to 2 Tbsp. fish sauce, OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt if vegetarian/vegan (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili (from the spice aisle)
  • squeeze of lemon juice


  1. Pour stock into a medium-size pot (you will also need a tight-fitting lid). Place pot on the stove over high heat.
  2. While stock is coming to a boil, add the turmeric, saffron, garlic, chili, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir well.
  3. Add the rice, plus 1.5 Tbsp. fish sauce (or 1/4 tsp. salt) and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low (just above minimum) and cover tightly with a lid. Cook 12-15 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Tip: Insert a fork or knife straight down into the pot and push the rice aside. If you see liquid, it still needs more time to cook.
  4. When most of the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and place lid on tight. Allow the pot is remain on the burner another 5-10 minutes, or until you're ready to eat. The residual heat inside the pot will finish steaming the rice. The rice will stay warm in this way for 1 hour or more (great if you're having guests!).
  5. Before serving, remove the lid and fluff rice with chopsticks or a fork (some of the chili may have risen to the surface - just stir it back into the rice). Taste-test for salt, adding 1/2 Tbsp. more fish sauce or a little more salt if needed (how much will depend on the saltiness of your stock). If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon juice. See below for links to curry recipes and other Thai food that goes well with saffron rice. Enjoy!

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