Raisin Saffron Basmati Rice Pilaf (Zaffran Kismis Pullao)

Exotic flavors and basmati rice for an extraordinary side dish.



  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 2 (3-inch pieces) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup California golden raisins, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro


Gently rinse rice 3 to 4 times in cold water; drain well. Set aside.

In small skillet, toast saffron threads over medium-high heat 20 to 30 seconds or until they turn one shade darker. Add to coconut milk; stir well. Set aside.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat; add onions, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until onions soften slightly.

Stir in cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Cook 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally to blend flavors.

Add rice, saffron-coconut milk, 1/2 cup California golden raisins, sugar, salt and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; stir once. Cover; cook 10 minutes more. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, 5 minutes more; set aside.

In small skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir-fry 1/2 cup California golden raisins and almonds 1 to 2 minutes or until raisins are plump and nuts turn golden brown. Stir in cilantro; set aside.

Fluff rice with fork; discard cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Transfer to a serving platter; garnish with stir-fried California golden raisins and nuts.

Notes: Basmati rice, a highly aromatic variety grown in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, is widely available in supermarkets.

Purchase saffron threads. Avoid buying saffron powder because it may not be in a pure form.

Pullaos are often served with the main course – either meat-based or vegetarian – as the starch alternative.

Large stalks of fresh cilantro, when deep fried, will yield dark green crispy stalks, ideal for garnishing the serving platter.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories 400 (31% from fat); Total Fat 14g (sat 7g, mono 5g, poly 1g, trans 0g ); Cholesterol 25mg; Protein 6g; Carbohydrate 63g; (Dietary Fiber 3g; Sugars 19g; ); Iron 1mg; Sodium 460mg; Calcium 47mg; Potassium 327mg

This recipe is found in the following categories:

World Flavors

Comment on the Recipe

Comments may be moderated. If you don't see your comment, please be patient. It may be posted soon. Do not post your comment a second time. Thank you.