Coconut Saffron Rice Recipe

I love saffron, and this saffron rice recipe almost brings me to tears every time I make it. Something about the sweet coconut milk paired with saffron’s bitter earthiness just makes me tingle. It’s waaaay better than that yellow packet we used to get at the grocery store, that’s for sure.

Since saffron is expensive, many folks don’t bother to cook with it. But in small amounts, it’s actually pretty affordable and a little goes a very long way. Amazon has a decent deal on saffron, and they’ll ship it right do you door for free. How can you beat that?

This saffron rice recipe cooks up pretty quickly, making it a great dish if you’re in a hurry – as long as you keep a few cans of coconut milk in the pantry for just such an occasion (and you do, too, right? Don’t we all?). I’ve been known to eat an entire pot of this stuff to my head, foregoing all of the other goodness on my plate. Plus it’s one of those rare dishes that gluten free AND vegan by default, so almost anyone can eat it.

Coconut Saffron Rice Recipe

  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon of warm Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 2 cups uncooked white basmati rice
  • 1-3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  1. In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in warm wine for five minutes while you complete step two.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over a medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about two minutes. Stir in rice, mixing with a wooden spoon until all of the grains are coated with peanut oil. Fry for one minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in the pot with the rice and oil, taking care not to get caught in the napalm-like splattering that will inevitably happen. Gently stir ingredients, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom while everything comes to a boil.
  4. Once liquid achieves a boil, reduce heat to low. Place lid on pot, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape. Stir occasionally to make sure rice doesn’t stick to bottom of pan and the sugar in the coconut milk doesn’t burn.
  5. Allow to simmer *very* gently for 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender. You do not want the coconut milk, which is high in sugar, to burn.
  6. Remove from heat and cover pot. Allow to sit for five minutes – it can actually sit like this for up to an hour. Fluff with a fork when you’re ready to serve.
  7. Variation: while hot, mix rice with finely chopped carrots, mint, and mango, then chill in the refrigerator for a great whole grain summer salad.

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Comments from other ninjas:

  1. Susan from Food Blogga says

    Saffron is such a lovely, delicate spice making any dish extra special.
    ps-still lovin the pink flowers.

  2. Donna says

    Ahh, so turmeric and cumin are key to really getting that yellow rice YELLOW. I’ve tried it with saffron only in the past and didn’t like the end result. Thanks for the info.

    • steph says

      Any time! Saffron alone won’t make rice yellow – turmeric gives it that something special (just like in a tofu scramble).


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