Product Review: Saffron and Saffron Rice Taste Test

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 04 July 2013.
Tagged: gluten-free, grains, review

This post has been sponsored by Novin Saffron of Saffrondust 

clipboardSaffron is the world's most expensive and highly-prized spice. It's been known since antiquity for its colour, flavour and medicinal properties. I've often read how it adds a wonderful subtle flavour to just about anything from rice dishes to chicken, prawns (think paella), sauces and even puddings. I have to admit I have never used saffron before so I called in my colleague Munaiba to help me understand what I'm tasting and what to look for. We started with a saffron tea.

Guest taste test by Munaiba Khan from

Then she cooked up two signature saffron recipes – a simple steamed saffron rice, the popular lemon-coloured rice you get served in Indian places plus a more gutsy Saffron chicken pilaf with mushrooms, chicken and coriander. Here's her rating using the Novin brand of saffron threads.

Using saffron in steamed rice

Saffron rice in bowlThis is how I make up a pot of that lemon-coloured rice often served in Indian restaurants.

Place a good pinch (about 10-12 strands of saffron) into a pot and pour over 2-3 tablespoons of hot water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes until you see the water turn a lovely yellow colour. Then add half a cup of raw uncooked rice (I used Kalijira, a small grain white rice from Bangladesh) and top up with one cup of cold water. Stir well to mix in the saffron evenly otherwise you may get streaks of colour.

Bring to the boil, give it a final stir, then leave to simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until all the water evaporates and steam tunnels form in the rice. Remove from the heat, cover and leave it to finish cooking in its own heat.

Taste 10 out of 10
The Novin saffron, which comes from Iran (Persia) where the best saffron originates, tasted beautiful in this basic rice. It added a special lift and rich undertone that can't be replicated by other spices.


 Using saffron in Saffron chicken pilaf

Saffron chicken pilafFirst up I used a good pinch (all right almost a teaspoon) of the saffron and I steeped it in a small plate of warm milk. Then I sliced a couple of chicken breasts into large cubes, seasoned with Cajun seasoning and just browned them in a little olive oil. While they rested I sautéed a finely chopped onion and sliced mushrooms in the same olive oil. I then added a tablespoon or so of cholesterol-lowering margarine (you can use butter) and added the washed and drained rice, some garlic and some mild chilli. After a couple of minutes I added a cup of frozen mixed veges, the browned chicken and 800ml of chicken stock.

Next I added the saffron to the pot. I used my new multi-purpose cooker as the pressure cooker cuts the cooking time to only seven minutes and seems to intensify the flavours. You can also make this in a regular rice cooker or just a heavy casserole pot in a slow oven. Oh the smell when the pressure valve was released after the cooking time expired!

I served the pilaf garnished with coriander. It's a complete, and quick, and very tasty, meal-in-one with the chicken, rice and vegetables all nicely blended.

This is a recipe I often cook up and I've adapted it from a plain risotto recipe that came with the cooker. It really does show off the quality of the saffron to its best. Once you've tried it, you'll find the flavour stays around in your 'mouth memory' and you'll want to make it up again!

Taste 10 out of 10

I just couldn't fault this saffron and I'm not saying that because this is a sponsored review. If I didn't like it you'd hear about it!

Saffron sample with tin

This is a sponsored review for Novin saffron. You can find out more about it and where to buy it at