Saffron Rice Pilaf (Pulao)

Saffron Rice Pilaf (Pulao)!  Aromatic and nutty basmati rice cooked in a Saffron infused broth.  You can pair this easy and popular side with so many dishes across different cuisines.  Saffron is a spice that is derived from the core of a flower called, saffron crocus.  Each strand of saffron is carefully extracted by hand, which makes it the world’s most expensive spice (by weight).  That being said, most recipes call for a pinch or two of saffron, so if you invest in a small box, it’ll last a long time.
Saffron Rice Pilaf or pulao by Spice Cravings. Aromatic and nutty basmati rice cooked in a Saffron infused broth. This easy and popular side compliments so many dishes from around the world. #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie

Saffron adds a deep floral fragrance along with a golden-yellow to a light-crimson color to dishes, depending on the quantity used.  You can bring out the best flavor of saffron, by soaking it in a warm liquid, like water or milk.  In Indian cuisine, Saffron is used in many rice preparations, both sweet and savory.  One of my favorite dishes, and, an extremely popular savory meat & rice pilaf, which uses saffron, is Biryani.

Instant pot Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani: Another rice dish made with saffron

In India, people also add saffron to many desserts, like Rava Kesari (Semolina Pudding) and Kheer (Rice Pudding).

Sooji Sheera, rava kesari

Rava Kesari: Indian dessert made with saffron

Pairing Suggestions with Saffron Rice Pilaf:

I find Saffron Rice Pilaf to be a pretty versatile side.  You can enjoy it with many Indian curries, like Butter Chicken, Lamb Korma, Paneer Tikka Masala, etc.  My family like to pair it with mediterranean spiced proteins like Chicken Shawarma, or Falafel.   I’ve made this recipe with Basmati rice, as well as Jasmine rice, and it works great with both.

Saffron Rice Pilaf or pulao by Spice Cravings. Aromatic and nutty basmati rice cooked in a Saffron infused broth. This easy and popular side compliments so many dishes from around the world. #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie

In this recipe, I have cooked saffron rice in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be prepared in any pressure cooker, a rice cooker, microwave, or even on the stove-top.   To learn more about the instant pot, check out my Instant Pot FAQ and Accessories blog.

Here is how to make it on the stove top or the microwave as well.

Stove-top Recipe:

Rinse 1 cup of rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear.  If you have the time, soak it for 15 minutes, that results in fluffy rice.  For one cup of rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add rinsed and drained rice, salt, ghee or oil, slivered almonds (optional), and saffron, that has been soaking in warm water (see how-to instructions in recipe card).  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, till you reach your desired texture.

Make it in the Microwave:

Rinse 1 cup of rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear.  If you have the time, soak it for 15 minutes, that results in fluffy rice.  In a microwave safe bowl, add drained rice, 2 cups of water (for 1 cup rice), and all other ingredients, and cook it at “rice” mode.

Saffron Rice Pilaf goes well with:

Paneer Tikka masala- Instant pot- Garammasalakitchen.com
Paneer Tikka Masala

lamb korma curry instant pot pressure cooker
Lamb Korma Curry

Instant Pot Easy Butter-Chicken-Garam Masala Kitchen
Easy, Quick Butter Chicken

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Saffron Rice Pilaf or pulao by Spice Cravings. Aromatic and nutty basmati rice cooked in a Saffron infused broth. This easy and popular side compliments so many dishes from around the world. #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie
Saffron Rice | Saffron Rice Pilaf
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
16 mins
Total Time
21 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 233 kcal
Author: Spice Cravings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup basmati rice or Jasmine Rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ghee or oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron : soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water (I microwave saffron and water for 20-30 seconds)
  • 2 tablespoon slivered almonds : optional
Other optional ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prep: Rinse 1 cup of rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear. If you have the time, soak it for 15 minutes, that results in fluffy rice. Take 1/2 teaspoon of saffron in a microwave safe bowl, Using a teaspoon, break down the stems into smaller pieces. Add 1 tablespoon hot water to it, or, add cold water and microwave it for 20-30 seconds. Saffron rice can be prepared two ways in the Instant Pot: Direct pot, or Pot-in-Pot. Here are both ways:

  2. Main Pot: Add rinsed and drained rice and all other ingredients in the inner pot of the instant pot. Close lid. Set valve to sealing position. Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 6 minutes, OR, Rice mode, which defaults to 12 minutes.

  3. Pot-in-Pot: Add all ingredients in any oven safe container. Add 1 cup water, or the recommended quantity, to your inner pot. Place trivet and place the rice bowl on top of that. Close lid. Set valve to sealing position. Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 6 minutes, OR, Rice mode, which defaults to 12 minutes.

  4. Serve: Wait 10 minutes before manually releasing the pressure (NPR 10). Open lid after pin drops. Using a fork, carefully fluff the rice. Serve with your favorite entree!

Recipe Notes

If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.

 

Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition Facts
Saffron Rice | Saffron Rice Pilaf
Amount Per Serving
Calories 233 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 297mg 12%
Potassium 135mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 41g 14%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 4g 8%
Calcium 2.6%
Iron 4.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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