What country you are in and what cooking tradition you follow affects your spice consumption system. But one of those foods that is used in countries with high consumption of saffron for its flavor and color is rice. From India and Iran to Italy and Spain, people make saffron rice for different occasions and serve it in combination with different foods due to its neutral flavor, making it an ideal addition to many meals. Let’s take a look at some of these delicious side dishes from various cooking traditions.
Persian rice dish
Iranians have been cooking saffron rice for centuries, especially at their gatherings. The common belief that consuming saffron makes people happy and uplifts their spirits, and the famous hospitality of Iranians, who always provide the best food and hospitality to make their guests happy, has created interesting memories for many Iranians, and in this happiness, saffron It has an essential role.
Most Iranians remember how their grandmothers or their mothers used to carefully separate a pinch of saffron threads from the container in which they kept the saffron, and patiently and delicately pound it in a small stone mortar and then pour hot water on it. The brew is used to convert the white rice into yummy yellow rice. Sometimes, the remnant of the brewed elixir was poured on food that was eaten with rice.
For this reason, millions of Iranians who live in North America, Europe, and Australia, even though saffron in those countries is much more expensive than in Iran, still consume this most expensive spice in the world to remember the gathering of the whole family in their grandfather’s houses. And keep their memories alive by eating saffron rice with all kinds of stews, kebabs, or chicken.
A saffron rice as a dessert or appetizer
Sholeh Zard is one of the traditional and old Iranian desserts, although today it is mostly prepared as an appetizer, So it is a kind of exception as not being a side dish. The interesting thing about the yellow shale is that it is known as an occasion food, hence, it is usually cooked in large quantities on special religious occasions to be distributed as an offering. Half-grain rice, sugar, rose water, Sliced almonds, butter, and finally brewed saffron in hot water are needed to give it a shining yellow color. Nothing but a little powdered cinnamon on prepared Sholeh Zard you need to enjoy its paradise taste and aroma of saffron.
The wedding and funeral food of Iranians: “Zereshk Polo ba Morgh”
Since ancient times, in many areas of north and northeast Iran, especially in Great Khoraassan, a popular dish was served at a wedding or funeral. Saffron rice covered with split barberry and roasted chicken. Both barberry and saffron, as special products of Khoraassan, give the people of this province and many people the ability to show their respect to their guests with this delicious food. The interesting point is that saffron is used in food both to flavor rice and to make chicken tastier.
Saffron in Indian food
India is the legendary land of spices. Today, India is the second producer of saffron after Iran, and most of this production is produced in the state of Kashmir, but due to the very low amount of Kashmiri saffron, India is one of the importers of Iranian saffron to preserve its food traditions.
Indian Butter Chicken
Butter chicken with saffron rice is a quality Indian dish that you can usually find in restaurants that serve Indian food. One of the good features of this dish is that it is completely prepared in an instant pot in just 30 minutes. Bite-sized pieces of grilled chicken are cooked in a creamy buttery tomato sauce with white basmati rice flavored with saffron. Some people may want to eat this dish with heavy cream sprinkled on it for a rich and luxurious taste.
Spanish appreciate the value of saffron
Spain used to be the largest producer of saffron, and they have given this position to Iran for several decades, and now it competes with the Chinese among the importers of Iranian saffron. However, this country is also one of the countries that its people appreciate very well the value of saffron.
Paella on Spanish beaches
Spanish Paella is now known in many countries, but if your goal is to go to the beautiful beaches of Spain, you must eat Paella there. This is a dish that is prepared in a pan and is a mixture of saffron rice and shrimp, shellfish, chicken, or even meat mixed with various spices and other seasonings.
Italian love with saffron
Like the Spaniards, the Italians are trying to cultivate saffron, but the domestic consumption of Italy is much more than their domestic production, which is usually around 500 kilograms per year, so they are also consumers of Iranian saffron, either directly or through the mediation of the Spaniards. One of the distinguishing aspects of Italian cooking is the existence of various recipes with pasta, and, interestingly, at least 7 types of pasta are made with saffron in Italy.
Irresistible Risotto alla Milanese
This golden-colored dish with precious saffron threads and irresistible cream is one of the representative recipes of Milan. Classic Carnaroli rice, perfect for risotto, toasted until shiny, saffron threads slightly soaked in water, creamed with very cold butter from the fridge. To prepare the Risotto alla Milanese you will need to have at least 1 liter of classic meat broth ready, which must always be kept very hot. Peel and finely chop half a white onion. In a large pan pour butter, then the chopped onion. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally to soften it.
Once browned, you can pour in the Carnaroli rice: the rice will absorb the butter and mix with the onion. When it is toasted and translucent, you can add the white wine. Let the alcoholic part evaporate for a few moments.
Pour the very hot broth, until it is covered and continue cooking over high heat, pouring in hot broth as needed. Gently immerse the saffron threads in hot water, and stir it just to bring them to life.
When we mix saffron threads
¾ of the way through cooking, add the saffron threads to the soaking water: wait a few moments for them to soften, then mix it: they will release their scent and color. When there is one minute left until the rice has finished cooking, remove the pan from the heat, add about some butter cut into pieces, drag it out of a very cold fridge, and mix it. Also, pour in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and mix it vigorously, so that the cold butter and cheese create the thermal shock that will promote creaminess and shine to the risotto. Serve the Risotto alla Milanese piping hot!
Saffron rice has a neutral taste and you can enjoy it with other foods. We have mentioned only a few of these possibilities above. Another article is needed to discuss the food tradition of Arab countries in which saffron plays a central role. By preparing Ghaaneh brand saffron from Queen of Flowers, which is the best saffron product from Khorassan farms in Iran, based on your own culture and taste, you will gain new experiences in adding new aroma and taste to rice and types of stew, kebab, chicken, seafood or even vegetables, if you like vegetarian dishes. Please share them with us.
What type of rice is compatible with saffron?
You can use saffron to give a golden color and exotic aroma to Iranian white rice, Indian basmati rice, and Carnaroli rice.
Is chicken the best option as a saffron side dish?
Because chicken has tender meat, people in different cultures from Asia to Europe use it as a saffron rice side dish, but in fact, you have no restrictions on adding other foods to saffron rice. Travel to Iran, India, Spain, Italy, or India to enjoy the amazing meals served with saffron rice.
What kind of saffron do you need to make saffron rice?
Iran is the largest producer of saffron in the world, in fact, 90% of the world’s production is from Iran, so don’t worry, you probably bought the saffron you bought as Spanish or Kashmiri saffron, in fact it is the same Iranian saffron, only the packaging belongs to Spain. And it is India unless you are unlucky and they sell you fake saffron. Buying directly from the Ghaaneh brand can save you from buying fake saffron.