Arts and Culture

Saffron rice with raisins and pine nuts gives meals Middle Eastern zest

Saffron rice with pine nuts is made all over the Middle East. Sometimes it is spiced with a little ground coriander, cinnamon and cumin, or flaked almonds are used instead of the pine nuts. Saffron rice is often served for Rosh Hashanah as the addition of raisins is said to sweeten the year ahead, but it is delicious any time of the year.

The following recipe is excerpted with permission from “Hazana: Jewish Vegetarian Cooking” (Quadrille), by Paola Gavin.


1 1/2 cups long-grain rice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1/2 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons raisins

1 cup hot vegetable stock or water

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved in
     2 tablespoons hot water

salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Wash the rice under cold running water and drain.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the onions and pine nuts over a moderate heat until the onions are translucent.

3. Add the rice and raisins and stir well, so each grain of rice is coated in oil.

4. Add the hot stock and the saffron liquid, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes or until the rice is tender but still firm and small craters have appeared in the surface of the rice. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Acclaimed food writer Paola Gavin has previously published three books: “Mediterranean Vegetarian Cooking,” “Italian Vegetarian Cooking” and “French Vegetarian Cooking.”

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