Saffron Brown Basmati Rice

I’ve been on a bonafide saffron kick since summer.

I want to put it in everything from tea to cookies to bread to breakfast cereal. And since I keep a batch of this simple Saffron Brown Basmati Rice in the fridge each week, I thought I’d share it with you so you can join me in my addiction.

I’ll make it as the recipe states below to partner with Chickpea Korma or Veggie Curry, and sometimes I’ll make it sans cumin and bake it into a rice or Bread Pudding. Or I’ll stir it over medium heat with coconut milk, toasted coconut, fresh, chopped apples, or pears, and chopped dates or raisins for a comforting cereal or dessert.

Fold in ¼ cup of shredded carrot, roasted (or steamed) broccoli, and/or peas for some extra color. It’s a great base that I could riff off of for days…

Now, I know saffron threads can be pricy, but you can try them in my Saffron & Rosewater Oats, too (which you’ll likely make daily after one bite). Prepare to fall in love.

A bit about saffron:
Saffron comes from the crocus flower, and it’s “threads” (stigma and stamen) are collected and dried to add flavor and color to a variety of dishes. Origin of saffron is believed to be Iran, Greece, or Mesopotamia.

A bit about cardamom:
Cardamom is an incredibly fragrant seed that originates in tropical and subtropical Asia, with first references of its use coming from Ayurvedic literature in India¹.

A bit about basmati rice:
This long-grain rice comes in white and brown varieties and has a nutty, floral aroma. It’s commonly grown in the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan.

If you’d like to learn how to make traditional recipes that use traditional spices and ingredients check out the following:
Zaitoun and The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen by Richa Hingle

Pinch of saffron threads, roughly 1/8 teaspoon*
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup basmati brown rice
3 ½ cups water
2 cardamom pods
½ teaspoon fine-ground sea salt

*If you want more yellow color, you can use 1/4 teaspoon or more saffron. Note that you can make this rice without the saffron and still get a beautiful, subtle flavor from the cumin and cardamom.

Let’s get started.
Wash rice well until water runs clear, rinse, and set aside for a minute.

In a large pot heated to medium, place saffron threads and cumin to dry roast for about 1–2 minutes, stir occasionally.

Now, transfer rinsed rice to the pot with water, cardamom pods, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover pot with a lid and cook for 15–20 minutes until all water is absorbed.

Remove from heat, keep covered, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a large spoon and serve warm.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7–10 days.


1. Weiss, E. A. (2002). Spice Crops. CABI. p. 299. ISBN 978-0851996059.

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