Persian saffron rice

Key Takeaways :

  • Fit for Royalty (or Pirates): Saffron rice wasn’t always a common dish. In ancient Persia, it was a symbol of wealth and status, reserved for royalty and the elite. Pirates, notorious for plundering valuable goods, sometimes even included saffron in their loot!
  • Beyond the Grain: Saffron rice isn’t limited to just rice. Variations might incorporate other grains like couscous, bulgur wheat, or even vermicelli noodles, offering a unique textural experience.
  • A Sweet Surprise: In some regions, especially in South Asia, saffron rice can be a sweet dish. Sugar, nuts, and dried fruits might be added alongside the saffron.
Written by Vahid Epagloo, Food Consultant Updated:

Persian Saffron Rice (pilaf) which is flavored with saffron is one of the delicious Iranian dishes. It is served with heterogeneous kinds of food including different types of kebabs, stews, and omelets. To Iranians, this dish never pall. In Iran, you can find it at funeral or wedding party dinners, and as votive offerings in religious ceremonies.

No matter what type is your kebabs, chicken or what are your various stews such as Ghormeh-Sabzi(vegetable stews), Khoresht-e Gheymeh (ghee stew), A:lu: Khoresht (plum stew), etc, almost in all cases you can add brewed saffron to the rice. So, let’s review these two forms: Kate and Abkesh. Then, in the last part of this article, because there are also different kinds of mixed rice in Iran, we will introduce one of the most popular saffron-flavored mixed rice; Tahchin.

Kate form

With the ingredients included in this recipe, you can prepare saffron rice for 4 people. If you want to make more or less saffron rice, just multiply or divide the ingredients.


  • 4 cups of rice
  • half tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 Tsp Saffron threads

How to prepare Kate

First, wash the rice 3 or 4 times until the water becomes transparent. Then, put it in a pot of water. The water must be up to the surface of the rice. You can add your salt in this stage. Discard the water in which you soaked the rice as the foam and glaze on the surface of that water can spoil the taste of your pilaf. soak it in some water and salt. If your rice is Iranian, 30 minutes to one hour of soaking is enough, but if you use Basmati rice, increase the soaking time.

If you use Persian rice, you must be alert so that your cooked grains do not adhere to each other. In fact, a good pilaf is made so that its grains should be plump and somewhat firm to resemble peppercorns with no mushiness, and each grain should be separate with no clumping. To yield such a result, you should pour the same number of cups of water into the rice as you put in the pot.

So here, for example, you can pour 4 medium glasses of water into the rice. Another way to measure the amount of water needed to cook boiled rice is to pour so much water that when you put your finger on the surface of the rice in the pot, there is as much water as your knuckle.

Add oil along with salt to the rice. Turn up the heat until the rice water boils. While boiling, you can stir the rice water 2-3 times until the water and salt are completely absorbed by the rice.

Two “do not”s

Do not stir too much as it may cause your grains to turn to mush. Then, turn down the heat and put a steamer lid on the pot until the rice is fully cooked by steam. Well-cooked rice grains must be crushed easily between your fingers with a simple pressing.

Do not take the lid of the pot away at all at this time in order for the heat inside the pot to decrease. The result must be in a way that the bottom of the rice is kind of fried and you could separate it from the pot completely.

Saffron addition technique

Finally, you can take out a part of your cooked rice and mix it with brewed saffron to achieve a small plate of yellow rice. This is the material for the decoration of the total rice in a larger oval rice tray. Iranians mostly put that saffron-flavored rice on the surface of the whole rice inside the tray in a cross form.


In this method of preparing saffron rice, you have to drain the rice and use hot steam to cook rice.

First, wash the rice with cold water and soak it again in cold water for 30 minutes to one hour, adding 1 spoonful of salt. Drain the rice. Pour some water into a suitable pot and put the rice into it. Put it on high heat until it boils completely. Based on the type of rice you use, you need about 10 to 20 minutes for the rice to soften. Using a proper colander, drain again the rice, the outer surface should be soft and the inside of the rice should be slightly hard.

Steaming stage

Pour a little oil on the bottom of the non-stick pot. You can also add a little brewed saffron water to make the bottom of your pot golden which will help to form a golden crust of rice at the bottom of the pot. Calling “Tah Dig”, literally meaning the bottom of pot, Iranians love this part of the food, it is like hot oily delicious rice biscuits. To reach to gold color of the contrast, you need white rice. If you use brown rice, possibly you have a kind of darker brown as a result.

Then pour the drained rice on it and gather it in the shape of a cone in the middle of the pot. Make several holes inside the rice so that the steam reaches all parts of the rice. Cover the pot with a lid on it. You can put a kitchen towel on the lid to stop the steam coming out of the pot. That will help the rice be cooked more quickly.

Serve the rice

After the steam is formed inside the pot, set the flame to low and wait 40 to 45 minutes for the rice to brew. In the meantime, brew the saffron.

Like Kate form, after the rice is cooked and steamed, put a few spoons of rice in a bowl and add the thick brewed saffron along with one to two spoons of oil and mix completely until the entire surface of the rice becomes saffron. Put white rice in a dish and decorate it with saffron rice.

The techniques of preparing saffron

You can use 2 methods to prepare saffron. First, grind the saffron well and put it in a glass. Put a small cube of ice on it. Let the ice melt and the saffron will release its color. In this case, saffron will color more.

The second method is to pour a little boiling water on the ground saffron and place it on the steam. You can put the container in which you infuse the saffron in a corner of the rice to let it steam inside the pot, and in the last step, pour the saffron on the rice. Learn more about using saffron in cooking and expand your dishes.


Tahchin (is one of the popular Iranian dishes, which is also known as a special food for important gatherings.

Let’s have a look at the necessary ingredients to prepare Tahchin for 4 people.

  • 3 cups of Iranian rice
  • 1 whole chicken breast
  • Yogurt abstract 1 cup
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Rose water 1 tablespoon
  • 50 grams of butter
  • Barberry 100 grams
  • Powdered sugar 1 teaspoon
  • 4 tablespoons of brewed saffron
  • Enough salt and black pepper
  • enough cinnamon and pistachio slices
  • Turmeric and enough oil

How to prepare Tahchin

  1. To prepare the chicken stock, we first put the chicken meat together with two glasses of water, some turmeric, cinnamon, and onion into a suitable pot, then put the pot on medium heat until the chicken stock is boiled.
  2. In order to make the chicken taste better, it is better to let all the water in the pot drain, this will make the flavor of all the spices absorb into the chicken. After removing the chicken from the heat and letting it cool down a bit, we cut it into small pieces.
  3. After shaving the chicken, put it in a pan with a little liquid oil and fry it a little, then add some turmeric, cinnamon, and black pepper to the chicken and continue roasting until the chicken is cooked with spices. It becomes uniform, then we put the chicken aside.
  4. At this stage, we rinse the barberries that we were scripted 20 minutes ago, then we lade along with sugar powder and some of the butter or liquid oil in a suitable pan, so that the color of the brilliant beams will then put the barberry.
  5. Put soaked rice ( the soaking process could last from 30 minutes to 3 hours according to the types of rice in lukewarm water, adding 1 teaspoon of salt and drained finally) in a suitable pot on heat and fill it up to the half water and allow water to boil.
  6. After the water being boiled, add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid oil to the pot. In the continuation, add the rice to boiling water and let it be cooked for 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. When the outer surface of the rice grains was quite soft, we again drained the rice and put it aside to use it a few minutes later. In the continuation, put egg yolks into a large bowl.
  8. We mix egg yolks to get out of the baking state, then we add abstract yogurt, along with rose water and saffron, and we combine well until the material is completely mixed and uniform. Then, add your well-drained rice into your mixture in the bowl, stirring them slowly to get a consistency material.
  9. Put some oil on the pot, add half of your mixture, and try to make it well pressed with a spoon. Then pour the hatched chicken with barberry on the pressed rice.
  10. Having put the rest of the mixture into the pot, press the rice with the spoon to make it like a cake. Split the butter into small pieces and spread them on the surface of the rice. Now we put the pot on very gentle heat.
  11. The needed time to cook Tahchin is about 45 minutes to one hour. After being cooked, reverse it into a suitable dish slowly, then decorate with pistachio and barberry.

Note: Tahchin can be cooked with meat. That makes the whole process a bit longer.


There are two ways of cooking simple white rice in Iran. Kate ( boiled rice) and Abkesh ( literally meaning drained rice). Normally in an Iranian traditional party, you can find one of these decorated be saffron water. On the other hand, there are various types of mixed rice in Persian rice Dishes. The most famous is called Tahchin which is a flavorful and fragrant dish that is perfect for special gatherings and occasions. The combination of tender chicken, tangy barberries, and aromatic saffron creates a unique and delicious flavor profile that is sure to impress your guests. Do not forget to taste the Golden crust of the crispy rice.

Ghaaneh Brand is set up to help you have access to one of the most expensive spices in the world; saffron. Ground saffron or saffron threads do not make a difference.


Can I substitute Persian rice with Basmati rice in this dish?

Yes, considering that the Basmati rice needs more soaking time normally.

Can I use ground saffron instead of saffron threads in this recipe?

Yes, you can use ground saffron instead of saffron threads. Just make sure to adjust the amount according to your taste preference.

Can I substitute chicken with another protein in this dish?

Yes, you can substitute chicken with beef or lamb.

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