Zaffrani Pulao | Zafrani Pilaf | Saffron Rice

This week is literally moving at snail's pace and recipe testing has taken a backseat. I have so much catching up to do with the blog posts and today is the last day of school for my son before the spring break starts. Yippeee! This very thought put me in a mood to party. Seriously, who likes to wake up at 5 am to churn out contents for the lunch box that eventually come back half eaten? Not me. I prefer holidays when I wake up at a decent hour, make a decent breakfast and do the rest of my chores on auto pilot mode - in other words, relaxed enough to think what I need to cook for the next meal.

Since the sonny boy loves this rice I decided to put it on my menu that I have roughly prepared for the upcoming holidays. I realised that the last time I had made it I had not even bothered to dump the pictures from the camera onto the computer. I just did that and here is today's recipe. 

My close family friend who is like my sister, Jenifer gave me this recipe and its a keeper. When I was in Mumbai she used to always send me some home cooked goodies and on a couple of occasions I got to taste this lovely pulao. The rice would be so aromatic, fluffy and oh so delicious that I can't describe it in words. The minute the food parcel entered my house the entire place would be filled with this amazingly delicious aroma that beckoned us to grab our plates and gobble it down. 

Saffron rice is so very delicate in its aroma and flavour that you can pair it with any accompaniment - a vegetarian or non vegetarian curry or kebabs or just simple plain curd or raitha. Although it may look 'plain', it is fit for royalty and people of all ages will definitely enjoy it should you decide to serve it during a party. 

Zaffrani Pulao | Zafrani Pilaf | Saffron Rice
Prep time: 10 mins | Soaking time: 15-20mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Serves 4


1. Soak the saffron strands in rose water for at least 15 minutes.
2. Wash the basmati rice a couple of times till the water runs clear. Soak it in sufficient water for at least 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drain the rice.
3. Heat the ghee in a wide, heavy based pan/kadhai heat and fry the raisins on a medium-low heat till they just puff up. Take care not to burn them. Remove. In the same ghee fry the pine nuts till golden and remove. Keep aside.
4. In the same ghee fry the onions till golden brown, remove and spread out on a plate. Keep aside.
5. Add some extra ghee if required to the pan and toss in the warm spices one by one - star anise, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms. Add the drained rice and fry it on a medium heat till the rice is well coated with the ghee.
6. In the meanwhile, in another pan bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the sugar and salt to it and check the taste. It should be a fine blend of sugar & salt. Adjust the salt and sugar if desired.
7. When the rice is fried and the ladle begins to feel a little heavy it is time to add the water. If you fry the rice beyond this point it will begin to break.
8. Add the boiling water-salt n sugar mixture, saffron-rose water mixture and stir once. Bring the rice and liquid mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat completely (to sim), cover the pan with a well fitting lid and cook for exactly 5 minutes. Keep a timer.
9. After 5 minutes turn off the heat and let the rice cook in its own steam for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes open the lid carefully, fluff up the rice gently with a fork (give all the flavours a mix) and then cover for another 2 minutes.
10. Serve hot with a simple yogurt raitha or any accompaniment of your choice.

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