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Edited on 1/20/2021 to make it reader friendly, answer reader FAQ and include more information.
A simple Saffron rice recipe that is easy to prepare even for a novice cook. This saffron rice turns out extremely flavorful, fragrant without any complicated steps involved. The use of saffron and spices gives this rice an exotic flavor.
This one pot meal of savory saffron rice can also be called Saffron Pilaf, or saffron rice with nuts and raisins or an Indian inspired saffron rice or kesar rice (saffron is called kesar in Hindi).
What are the ingredients required to make saffron rice?
- Basmati rice
- Coconut milk
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Cardamom pods
- Bay leaf
- Ginger garlic paste.
What are the steps involved in preparing the saffron rice?
In the recipe card below, you will find detailed instructions to make in a Instant Pot.
- Soak the saffron ( this will be part of your prep work)
- Rinse, soak and drain rice (this will be part of your prep work)
- Fry the spices in ghee.
- Add rice and saffron plus other ingredients as listed in the recipe.
- Add sufficient quantity of coconut milk + water.
- Cook according to the instructions.
Saffron in saffron rice 🙂
As with any saffron recipe, always start with a good quality saffron soaked for at least 20 minutes. When in a hurry, I have soaked the saffron for a lesser time duration, and it still gives the lovely golden yellow color to the rice and the exotic fragrance.
But when you are using such a precious spice, to get the most bang for your buck, it is highly recommended that you soak it at least 15 minutes.
I am so much in love with this spice (saffron), that I dedicated an entire blog post for the spice. Read about Saffron here (you will find information about the spice as well as over 30 recipes using saffron as one of the ingredients).
Vegan-ize Saffron Rice Recipe
It is very easy to “vegan-ize” this saffron rice recipe since there is only one ingredient that is not vegan – ghee (or clarified butter). We do not follow a vegan diet here at home, so I always use ghee to make this rice. But to make vegan saffron rice, just substitute ghee with either coconut oil (this is my favorite oil if not using ghee to make saffron rice), or any oil you regular oil you use for cooking. Just note that the aroma and taste of the oil should blend with other spices in the recipe.
What are the changes in the edited version of the recipe?
- The original recipe using the instant pot used the in built "Rice" function. This still works, but I have experimented with various settings and I have updated the recipe with my favorite less time consuming setting. But when you do not want to use "set it-forget it" setting, you can still use the in built "Rice" function.
What types of rice can be used?
I have made this recipe using the following
- Basmati Rice
- Sona Masoori
- Jeera Rice
Can I use canned coconut milk for the recipe?
I prepare this rice using store-bought coconut milk. I prefer the coconut milk prepared using Maggi Coconut milk powder to coconut milk in cans for this recipe. To make thick coconut milk, I just follow the instruction on the Maggi coconut milk packet.
You can definitely use the canned coconut milk as well.
What to serve with saffron rice?
I love this aromatic & flavorful Saffron rice. It is not only very easy to prepare, but tastes uh-maz-ing! The underlying flavor profile of this rice pairs it well with meat dishes. A simple mixed vegetable raitha (Indian yogurt dip) works well if you are a vegetarian.
- Chicken Ghee Roast - Chicken is slow-cooked in spices roasted in Ghee resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorsome pieces of chicken.
- Chicken kebabs are absolutely delicious with this saffron rice.
- Green chutney chicken - this is like the hariyali chicken kebabs made on stovetop :). Super flavorful.
- Spicy oats crusted chicken - this saffron rice will pair amazingly well with this spicy chicken.
What to do with leftovers?
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat using one of the following ways:
- Reheat in a microwave safe bowl until heated thoroughly.
- Add some more ghee/oil and reheat using a skillet on stove top. This ensures that rice grains do not dry up.
Looking for more rice recipes?
- Tomato Coconut Rice - My go-to rice recipe when I cannot come up with an idea as to what to cook for dinner. :).
- Make a note of this curry-flavored pineapple fried rice - bursting with flavors!
- Paneer Corn Pulao - This combination is simply super.!
- Have you checked out the most popular rice recipe on the blog - Wild rice with garbanzo beans?
- Use good quality saffron soaked at least for 15 minutes for best results.
- I prepare this rice using store-bought coconut milk. I prefer the coconut milk prepared using Maggi Coconut milk powder to coconut milk in cans for this recipe. To make thick coconut milk, I just follow the instruction on the Maggi coconut milk packet. But you can definitely use the coconut milk in cans as well.
- 1 cup = 250 ml. US measurement for 1 CUP=240ML. This recipe works with US cups also. Use the same cup for all measurements.
- Prep time includes the soaking (& draining) time for rice and saffron
- 2 cups basmati rice; rice 3-4 times, soaked for 15 minutes and drained for 15.
- 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 tablespoon pistachios (for garnish)
- 2 tablespoon raisins (for garnish)
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods; husked
- 2 one inch cinnamon pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste.
- 1 stalk lemongrass; gently crushed
- 2 generous pinches of saffron; soaked in a tablespoon of warm water for at least 15 minutes
- 1.5 cups thick coconut milk
- 1.5 cups water
- Salt to taste.
Warm tablespoon water and soak saffron.
Rinse rice 3-4 times and soaks it in water for 15 minutes. Drain for 15 minutes.
Cooking instruction using Instant Pot
Start the Instant Pot in the saute mode. Add ghee and let it melt and heat up.
Fry pistachios and raisins. Drain and keep them aside for garnish.
Into the same hot ghee, add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf and fry for a few seconds till aromatic.
Add the washed and drained rice, lemongrass, and ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute. Press"Cancel" to switch to another mode.
Add the coconut milk, water, soaked saffron (along with the water), and salt. Cover and secure the Instant pot lid. Vent into the SEAL position.
Pressure cook (or manual mode in older models) on HIGH for 5 minutes. When the timer has beeped, natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then release any remaining pressure manually (Quick-Release).
Open the Instant Pot lid and fluff gently with a fork. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve hot garnished with pistachios and raisins.
Use good quality saffron soaked at least for 20 minutes in coconut milk for best results.
I prepare this rice using store-bought coconut milk. I prefer the coconut milk prepared using Maggi Coconut milk powder to coconut milk in cans for this recipe. But you can definitely use the coconut milk in cans as well.
1 cup = 250 ml. US measurement for 1 CUP=240ML. This recipe works with US cups also. Use the same cup for all measurements.
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