Saffron Rice Pilau

Photo by nadja.robot/flickr

Serves 4-5.


500 g/1 lb basmati rice
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ghee
2 teaspoons salt
1 litre/2 pints/4 cups hot water or stock
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
2 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins) (optional)


Wash basmati rice well in several changes of water, and leave to drain and dry for at least 30 minutes. In a heavy-based saucepan with a well-fitting lid cook the onion in ghee very slowly until it starts to turn golden brown. Add the rice and fry for a few minutes until all the grains are coated with ghee. Add salt and hot water.

Toast saffron strands on low heat in a dry pan for 1 minute, turn onto a saucer to become cool and crisp, and crush with the back of a spoon. Dissolve in a tablespoon of hot water and stir into the pan of rice together with sultanas. Bring to the boil, then turn heat very low, cover tightly and cook on low heat for 15 minutes without lifting lid or stirring. Uncover, allow steam to escape for a few minutes, then transfer to serving dish with a slotted metal spoon, not a wooden spoon which will crush the grains. Serve with other dishes.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)