Large bowl of saffron rice

Lauren Glucina

A vibrant, fragrant and fluffy Saffron Rice recipe, cooked in vegetable broth with caramelised onions, studded with pomegranate, cranberries and pistachios. Saffron is a mood-boosting spice – this dish is pure food as medicine!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Gluten free, Persian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Saffron Rice Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 people as a side.
Calories 254kcal
Author Naturopath Lauren Glucina



  • 2 cups long-grain brown basmati rice
  • 1 litre vegetable stock organic, low sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion brown
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds


  • 1/4 cup slivered/flaked almonds
  • 1/4 cup pistachios or pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2 tablespoons cranberries
  • zest of half an orange


  • Prep saffron; grind half in a mortar and pestle, then add remaining stamens and a
    few tablespoons hot (not boiling) water, let steep for 10 minutes.
  • Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan, then add spices: bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom. Fry over low heat for a minute or so until fragrance is released.
  • Add rinsed and drained long-grain basmati rice, and fry for another minute.
  • Add one litre stock, and pour in the hydrated saffron. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Meanwhile, in a fry pan, dry toast the nuts until golden, then set aside, add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, and fry sliced onion until soft and caramelised.
  • Check on the rice: it should now have just about absorbed all liquid. Add the cranberries now to soften them.
  • Once rice has cooked, remove from element, pick out the bay leaf and cardamom pods if you can, add all remaining ingredients, and fluff with a fork ready to serve.


  • You can use white basmati in place of brown basmati, though I prefer brown from a nutritional standpoint as it is a whole grain with more nutrients in tact. 
  • Brown basmati takes a little longer to cook than white.
  • Make sure the rice cooks low and slow, then fluff with your fork for utter perfection.
  • This recipe is delicious without the addition of the berries and nuts - so if you're after something fuss free, just omit. In fact - the berries + nuts are more akin to a traditional Persian Jewelled rice. 
  • Pine nuts and currents are great alternatives to the nuts and cranberries.
  • Fresh cranberries would be amazing! 
  • Nutritional panel is an estimate only, and has included the berries + nuts.


Calories: 254kcal