Traditional recipes

Best Saffron Recipes

Best Saffron Recipes

Top Rated Saffron Recipes

Don’t worry — that’s not mustard in the picture. That would be sacrilege. It’s a saffron aïoli with toasted garlic and ginger, and the characteristic color comes from saffron. In other words, it’s fancy mayo. There will definitely be some leftover (there isn’t really a way to make less, unless you don’t mind going to the trouble of splitting an egg evenly; ratios are ratios after all), but it shouldn’t be hard to think of ways to use up the rest. Using only extra-virgin olive oil would make for a bitter mayo, so it's toned down with an equal measure of canola oil.Make this for the special someone in your life, and I guarantee you, the fireworks will happen — or at the very least, the house will smell like bacon and toasted garlic. Which is never a bad thing.Click here to see the Bacon: It's What's for Dinner story.

Throughout the centuries saffron has been a symbol of wealth and elegance. Cleopatra used saffron water to keep her skin soft. Roman Emperor Nero sprinkled the streets with saffron water to honor his return to Rome. Persians considered it a tonic for the heart as it was thought to alleviate melancholy. (However, they believed too much of it could produce a state of euphoria and even death from too much laughter!).A spice consisting of the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it was introduced into Spain by the Arabs, and later cultivated in Mediterranean regions and elsewhere in Europe. In France, it was grown by “safraniers” in the sixteenth century. In England, the Essex town of Saffron Walden became the center of saffron cultivation.Rice was introduced into Italy during the Middle Ages by Venetian or Genoese merchants who traded with the east. The earliest documentation of rice cultivation in Italy dates to 1475. Risotto is specific to northern Italy where rice paddies are abundant. — Maite Gomez-Réjon.Adapted from the ArtBites tour of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The radiant orange spice, saffron, has been studied and shown to be as effective as certain antidepressant drugs such as imipramine and fluoxetine. Saffron also helps with mood swings and depression associated with PMS. Make tea with a pinch of saffron and experience these amazing effects.Read more about 12 Teas That Boost Your Mood.

I do love a good egg salad, but this time, I wanted to put a little twist on it. That's right: This egg salad has been French-ified. Frenchied? Frenched? Anyway, I thought the results were pretty darn good. Slather it on a baguette (obviously), top it with some arugula and chopped olives and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and you'll be in egg salad heaven.

I've made a lot of hummus in my life, but this recipe really takes the cake as far as flavor. The caramelized onions with hints of saffron and garlic are so delicious you'll definitely be coming back for more. Enjoy with pita chips, or if you're looking for something healthier chop up some carrots and cucumbers.

In Persian cuisine, this is traditionally a peasant dish made with lamb called 'tah cheen' because tah means “bottom” and cheen means “to layer"; and the dish is essentially layers of rice and meat. The bottom of the pan produces the delicious, flavorful and crispy layer of rice called tah-deeg that gives it the look of a golden brown cake. This recipe is made with boneless chicken, but fish, lamb or a whole chicken are other options. In the Persian tradition, tah cheen should be paired with yogurt, herbs and eaten immediately so that the tah-deeg does not become soggy.As most Persians cooks do not use measurements or recipes because they develop their own during a lifetime of cooking, the cuisine is both challenging and rewarding for the novice cook. A blending of scribbled notes, directions, and tips from my parents and grandmother along with the cookbook A Taste of Persia by Najmieh Batmanglij produced this recipe for tah cheen.Good luck and enjoy!

Add vegetables and this doubles as a perfectly good summer soup. I use asparagus stock here because this sauce is going to accompany my Asparagus Paella, but feel free to replace it with basic stock.Click here to read the full story on Dirt Candy: A Cookbook.

Recipe adapted from Ian Hancock, We Are the Romani peopleGaluški is a lovely dessert of marzipan dumplings served in milk, sort of like a warm cereal. Because my mother hates marzipan, we used to just eat basmati rice with lots of milk, sugar, and cinnamon, which, if you haven’t tried it, is also quite lovely. In this decadent version of Galuški, the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron perfume the milk and complement the almonds’ delicate flavor. Pairs well with Papusza’s poetry and “Romani tea.”Read How to Eat Like a Real Gypsy here

For those of you who have ever eaten from a "halal cart," the title of this rice recipe probably seems like a bold statement. If the reference means nothing to you, don't worry — before moving to New York, I wouldn't have had a clue either.A halal cart is a street vendor that, at a minimum, sells two things, and two things very well: chicken over rice and lamb (or gyro) over rice. Most offer the option to wrap up the same fixings — meat, lettuce, generally out-of-season tomatoes, white sauce, and a bit of smoky paprika-based hot sauce — in a pita as well, minus the rice. It sounds simple, but done right, it's absolutely delicious, addictive, and satisfying. The best part? You walk away full after spending just $5.Some also sell knishes (another mysterious New York thing), kebabs, and falafel. Others even offer pretzels, hot dogs, chestnuts, and Philly cheesesteaks. In other words, if you can walk away with it, they probably have it. (I have yet, however, to see one that sells pizza.)The rice, in theory, is basmati. Some vendors offer just white rice, others will offer "yellow rice," while some offer a mix of the two. It sometimes has a few peas in it and perhaps some cooked tomato. Some of them cheap out on the rice, though, and offer something that tastes suspiciously like Uncle Ben's. The mystifying thing is: What exactly makes the yellow rice yellow? Is it turmeric? Is it saffron? (Probably not.) A friend recently pointed out that it might be food coloring.We decided to take the guesswork out of the equation and make a new and improved version of halal-cart rice that you won't get on the street. This version is flavored with saffron, freshly shucked peas, and ripe tomato — the perfect base for grilled chicken, fish, or lamb. Whoever says rice is bland is about to have their world rocked.Click here to see Rice Made Sexy — 5 Great Dinner Recipes.

In paella, the focus is rice cooked in an intense stock, with meat adding flavor, but meat has taken over and often the paella emerges with the meat cooked perfectly but the rice overcooked and mushy. Dirt Candy's paella focuses on cooking the bomba rice perfectly, and we use a toasted rice crisp to get the sweetness of socarrat into the dish.Click here to read the full story on Dirt Candy: A Cookbook.

The saffron adds a deliciously mellow dimension to this simply sweet and hearty smoothie. Click here to see Smoothies for Clearer Skin.

This sauce is creamy, lovely, and only has one ingredient. Yes you heard that right! One ingredient.

Saffron Recipes and Storage Storage Tips

Available in threads (whole stigmas) and ground, your best bet is to go with saffron threads. Not only will they retain their flavor longer, but you will also be assured you have purchased pure saffron.

Powdered saffron is not as strong, tends to lose flavor, and is also easily adulterated with fillers and imitations. Since so little is needed, you will find ground saffron sold in packets of about 1/16 of a teaspoon, and threads equaling about 1/4 gram or 1/2 of a teaspoon. Yet, these seemingly small amounts will often flavor more than one dish.

If you cannot find saffron on your local market's spice shelves, try asking at the service desk. It is often hidden in the office to thwart would-be thieves.

Threads should be crushed before using. For ground saffron, lightly toast and grind threads yourself. Steep them in the cooking liquid before using. The longer you steep the saffron threads, the stronger the flavor and color.

I know of some frugal cooks who steep a few threads in a few tablespoons of hot liquid for 10 minutes, use the liquid in their recipe, then dry and reuse the threads a second time.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 pinches of saffron, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the saffron and boiling water and steep for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse the rice under cold water. Place the rice, 1 3/4 cups water, and saffron in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper, and either spoon into the bouillabaisse or serve on the side.


The recipes below are a sampling from Najmieh’s cookbooks. Use them to explore Persian cuisine, which has one of the oldest and most refined cooking schools. You will find inspiration from a great age-old cuisine presented for today’s cook.

Stove-top Plain Rice

This is a very simple way to make wonderful rice in only 30 minutes. It is a technique favored around the Caspian, where rice is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Fava Bean and Dill Khoresh

The combination of dill, fava beans, and plenty of garlic, flavored with verjuice/ab ghureh or sour orange/narenj is a signature taste of the Caspian region. It is made with chicken or lamb and served over plain rice/kateh.

Apple Khoresh

Using fruit and nuts to create a slow-cooked braise with a sweet and sour flavor has been part of the Persian cooking repertoire since ancient times. In this recipe I am also giving you a variation that replaces the split peas with sour cherries.

Steamed Rice with Cumin and Potatoes

I adapted this recipe from Mah-Gol Bagherpour, a wonderful cook at Shahin and Homayoun Sarlati’s house in Kerman.

Saffron Rice and Potato Balls

Traditionally, the filling of these potato croquettes is made with lamb and deep fried. It’s also made in various parts of Iran without the potato. If you want to try them the traditional way: For the filling, add ½ pound of ground lamb with the onion in step 3 and…

Pistachio and Pomegranate Meatballs

Years ago I was inspired by a sixteenth-century Persian cookbook to create this recipe and combine a mixture of pomegranate and grape molasses for the sauce…

Noodle and Chickpea Soup

In Iran, it is said that eating noodles brings good fortune, that is why noodle soup is always served on Nowruz, the Iranian New Year’s Day.

Pistachio Soup

The word “pistachio” comes from the Persian word pesteh. One ancient nickname for the Persian people was “pistachio-eaters.” According to a Greek chronicler, when King Astyages of the Medes gazed from his throne over his army, which had been defeated by Cyrus the Great, he exclaimed, “Woe, how brave are…

Saffron Rice Pudding

This rich, delicious vegan saffron rice pudding is associated with sofrehs and the giving of alms during religious ceremonies. It also makes a wonderful chilled dessert in small portions.

Saffroned Almond Cake

I’ve adapted this recipe from Sara Alavi’s mother, Shayesteh Khanum, who is from Yazd. Sara says that in spring her mom would spread almonds on a clean sheet and cover them with pussy willow flowers, leaving them overnight for the perfume of the flowers to infuse the almonds. She can…

Saffroned Mango Pickle

For this pickle, it is best to use firm, unripe mangoes. This helps the fruit keep its shape as it ferments.

Rose Water and Apple Shrub

Shrubs/faludeh have an ancient tradition in Iran’s culinary history and go back a few thousand years. Iranians loved to combine fruit with syrup or honey and crushed ice. Sherbets and sorbets are the descendants of the faludehs of Shiraz.

Recipe Of The Day: Saffron Arancini

Arancini are Italian rice balls made by breading and deep-frying portions of risotto. If an Italian restaurant is worth its salt, they’ll have a thin, crisp shell on the outside and molten cheese-laden risotto within. These arancini are infused with saffron, for an earthy, aromatic note.

Recipe Of The Day: Saffron Arancini

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Serving Size: 6 to 8


  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 cup fontina, grated
  • 1 tablespoon saffron
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups herbed bread crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 quart canola oil


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Sauté onions with saffron until soft.
  2. Add rice and coat with oil. Deglaze with white wine.
  3. Stir in hot chicken stock one ladle at a time, letting the stock absorb before adding any more (check out our basic risotto technique for more on this). Once you have incorporated all the stock, finish with the two cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cool the risotto. Make one-ounce balls, then roll the balls in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
  5. Heat canola oil to 300 F. Fry arancini for 3 minutes. Remove and pat dry with paper towels. Serve immediately.

Try out these other rice balls and Italian recipes on Food Republic:

I used linguine in this recipe. Linguine is like flat spaghetti and is one of the most popular pastas for seafood pasta recipes. The linguine I bought for this pasta with prawns and saffron recipe was made by De Cecco, one of the most popular pasta brands in Italy. In fact, De Cecco has won awards for their pasta and are considered by many to be the producers of the best ‘supermarket’ pasta in Italy. I use the term supermarket in contrast to small producers or artisan pasta makers.

Where to buy this linguine.

De Cecco pasta is quite widely available outside of Italy. Readers in the US can also buy it from the sponsors of this post Supermarket Italy, a fabulous online Italian gourmet food store.

Supermarket Italy

Supermarket Italy is a family owned business founded in September 2009. Since then, it has become a trusted leader in imported Italian and European goods to US. They source products of the highest quality from vendors in Europe. Their mission is to bring as many high-quality, authentic Italian and European goods to Americans as possible, from world-class DOP Italian meats all the way to top-tier Italian beauty products.

Apart from the De Cecco linguine for this pasta with prawns and saffron, you can buy some other excellent Italian pasta brands from Supermarket Italy. Among my favourites that they stock are Mancini, Gentile, La Fabricca della pasta di Gragnano and Garofalo.

Treat yourself to this Italian prawn saffron linguine.

Some people might think this is a bit of a pricey pasta recipe. I guess it is a bit! Saffron isn’t the cheapest spice and prawns can be expensive! However, sometimes it’s worth splurging on something special! I‘m sure you’ll agree with me after you’ve tried this Italian prawn saffron linguine!

If you do try this divine pasta with prawns and saffron recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Other pasta with saffron recipes

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A culinary treasure for millennia, saffron is worth nearly its weight in gold. It has also been a thrilling challenge for a couple looking to turn over a new leaf. They planted their first crop in Kelseyville, California, three years ago, and today they're the largest organic commercial growers of the spice in the country. Welcome to Peace and Plenty Farm.

Melinda Price first daydreamed of being an organic farmer 30 years ago in a very incongruous setting: while posing in the salons of Paris couturier Hubert de Givenchy, where she worked as a model. From there, she followed a circuitous path, becoming a public-school teacher, a caterer, a single mother, and a tech worker in San Francisco. Then in 2016, Price and her now-husband, Simon Avery, a former ornithologist, started to cast about for a high-value specialty crop&mdashlike wasabi, mushrooms, or hops&mdashthat would allow them to realize her longtime dream, and make a living. "It takes a lot of carrots to pay the mortgage," she jokes. One day, a voice spoke to them through the ether, and what it said, of all things, was "Saffron."

The pair lived in Northern California, and "Simon was in the car listening to NPR," recalls Price. A newscaster was reporting from the University of Vermont about a plan to introduce saffron as a cash crop for New England's struggling small farmers. Or reintroduce it, really, since the source of "red gold," the autumn-blooming Crocus sativus plant, was brought to America in the 18th century by Amish and Mennonite immigrants from western Europe. (Today, Iran is the spice's top global producer, and saffron is integral to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine a few strands lend its distinct earthy flavor and hue to dishes like paella, risotto alla Milanese, tagine, and tahdig.) Avery told Price what he'd heard, and soon after she booked a plane ticket to attend a weekend workshop in Vermont. While there, she wound up buying 7,000 bulb-like corms for fall delivery. "We had to commit," she says. "Saffron ticked all the boxes."

What the pair didn't have was a farm. An intense real-estate search a few hours north of San Francisco led them to seven acres in Lake County, where they spent the summer digging beds together, Avery full-time and Price on nights and weekends, while still doing her day job. Saffron crocuses yield a limited crop the first season, and that October they produced 25 grams of kitchen-ready threads, enough to fill a tea tin. It wasn't much, but luckily saffron is measured by the pinch, not the pound. Price put her first harvest to homespun use, enjoying it in rustic everyday dishes&mdashlike scalloped potatoes, chicken soup, and shortbread&mdashthat inspired our recipes here.

The couple now farm some 500,000 corms, which produce up to two kilograms, or about 4.4 pounds, of saffron per year. With such lucrative potential yields (one gram of their organic saffron costs $54), why don't more farmers grow it? "The labor!" says Price. "It is so time-consuming." Every flower is picked by hand before sunrise by the couple and a seasonal crew of interns and local volunteers, and every rust-colored stigma has to be plucked out that same day, she explains. Over the month-long harvest, each corm rapidly pushes up as many as 18 flowers. "You can spend the morning clearing a field, look back, and it's purple again!" she says. Next, the stigmas are cured (dried), which primes them to develop their signature flavor over the following eight months&mdashjust in time to get ready for the next round of planting, and another new beginning.

Art Direction by James Maikowski Food Styling by Frances Boswell Prop Styling by Ayesha Patel.

Pro Tips

  1. Layer falooda dessert and serve immediately.
  2. Practice layering and mixing up of colors for the best visual appeal.
  3. Make a falooda bar for a party. Serve all ingredients separately for mix and match as per taste.
  4. This dessert beverage is best enjoyed with a tall dessert spoon. But if you want to make it drinkable, use a smoothie straw making sure that the jelly pieces are really small and nuts are chopped finely.
  5. Make Ahead: All the ingredients for the layers can be made ahead and stored.

3 chicken drumsticks
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons oil to fry
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 piece (1 inch size) fresh ginger, chopped
2 green chiles, seeded and sliced
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Fry the saffron threads in a dry frying pan over low heat for 1-2 minutes.

Transfer to a small bowl, add the 2 tablespoons hot water and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chili. Fry until very soft.

Add the spices, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook over high heat for 3 minutes, or until the meat is well coated. Add the saffron liquid and the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Stir the cornflour in a little bit of hot water and add this mixture to the pan. Boil for 1 minute until the gravy becomes thicker. Serve with rice and best friends.

Homemade Saffron Rice

Why bother rinsing and soaking rice? Why not just bring the chicken broth or water to a boil like conventional saffron recipes suggest and cook it up in about 30 minutes?

Rinsing the rice is important because the best tasting saffron rice is made with basmati white rice. Other types of rice just don’t turn out as well. When using any type of white rice for a dish, the potential for asbestos residue is very real, as talc is commonly used in the polishing process. Thus, a thorough rinsing (repeated if you want to be especially careful) is very important before cooking. This prevents unintentional cancer causing talc and/or asbestos exposure.

Once rinsed, the rice should then be soaked for about 8 hours or overnight. I tend to put my rinsed rice on to soak right after breakfast, then it is ready to cook when I start dinner later in the afternoon.

The soaking process does two things. It results in more digestible rice by deactivating anti-nutrients like phytic acid. Perhaps most importantly, it also significantly reduces any heavy metal toxins like arsenic in the rice by up to 80%. Arsenic contamination in rice and any foods made with it is a huge problem these days. Buying organic rice is not necessarily any safer, by the way!

Rinsed and Soaked Saffron Rice is Safer to Eat

Sadly, our polluted world is such that choosing to skip the soaking process for rice before cooking is a downright dangerous practice. It’s not just about improving digestibility anymore – it’s about preventing harm too!

With that, let me share my recipe for soaked saffron rice. It takes a bit of planning to rinse and soak the rice before cooking. However, you will be rewarded with a safer dish that is more nutritious, digestible, and fills you up better with a smaller portion. It even cooks more quickly than conventional saffron rice recipes so ultimately, you will get dinner on the table faster!

Watch the video: Is Swiss Saffron The Best In The World? (December 2021).