Saffron is the world’s most costly aromatic, for it takes the stigmas (pistil tips) of 75,000 Crocus sativus blossoms to make a single pound when dried.
Saffron has been treasured from remotest times as a culinary spice, a coloring for foodstuffs, a cosmetic, a fabric dye, and as a medicine. Homer was acquainted with its golden hue when he wrote a “saffron-robed morning.” Saffron may have come originally from the Holy Land; from the Songs of Solomon we have learned that it was among the “chief spices”: “Thy plants are an orchard of Pomegranates, with pleasant fruits, Camphire with Spikenard, and Saffron, Calamus, and cinnamon, with all trees of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Aloes.”
The Greeks and Romans called saffron Krokus, and the little bulb followed the Roman legions all over Europe. Then came the fall of Rome, and the beginning of the Dark Ages. The golden days were past; luxuries, among them saffron, were relegated to memory.
In the course of several centuries many of the plants the Romans had introduced, including saffron, disappeared from gardens in England and northern Europe. But when the Moors conquered Spain, one of the treasures they brought with them was the spice Safran, meaning “yellow.” That is why, for the past 12 centuries, so many of Spain’s best dishes have been redolent of this golden spice.
Saffron is among those spices often used too lavishly. Just a few strands are adequate to give excellent color and aroma to a pot of rice.
from The Spice Cookbook, 1964
Saffron Rice with Raisins and Pine Nuts
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 cup golden raisin (sultanas)
- 1/4 cup dried currant or cranberries
- 1/8 tsp saffron thread
- 2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- cilantro for serving
In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion and carrot and saute until a little brown, (about 5 minutes).
Add rice and saute 2 minutes longer.
Add broth or water, pepper, butter, cinnamon, and allspice.
Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Stir in raisins, currants or cranberries, saffron, and half of the pine nuts.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid (about 15 minutes).
To serve, stir and fluff the rice and garnish with remaining pine nuts and cilantro.
Have a nice cup of coffee after your meal. I did-))
Margaret Murphy TrippMarch 28, 2012 at 12:13 am
Beautiful photos, lovely rice dish and I liked learning a bit about saffron that I never knew before! Nice post, thanks!
MarinaMarch 28, 2012 at 3:05 am
I love saffron rice. I have a friend from Persia (that's how she likes to identify herself), who makes amazing saffron rice. This one looks very similar, and I am sure it tastes delicious! I can smell saffron through the screen… Can I come for dinner?! 🙂
NishMarch 28, 2012 at 3:11 am
I love saffron rice but have always had it plain! Your addition of raisins and pine nuts sound really good!
TiffanyMarch 28, 2012 at 3:32 am
Beautiful photos, and I love the recipe!
MedejaMarch 28, 2012 at 9:36 am
Very nice dish. Carrot, rice and raisins are really great combination of flavors!
KatieMarch 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm
this recipe looks and sounds delicious. Must make this asap!
AmbikaMarch 29, 2012 at 2:03 am
Love your styling, dishes and photos! The rice is of course amazing!
RhondaMarch 30, 2012 at 12:58 am
You always seem to have the right dishes, etc. How do you do that? Saffron rice is to die for!
YelenaMarch 30, 2012 at 1:17 am
Rhonda, I have a lot of stuff-)) I can open studio now for rent if I like-))) Thank you for visiting me!
AnonymousMarch 30, 2012 at 6:18 am
The rice looks so delicious and your photos are stunning and SO colorful! I just love it!
PeggyMarch 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm
Love the tidbits of information about saffron! The rice looks heavenly =)