Persian Rice

The winner is this rice from Persia. I think I’ve shared a couple of tried-and-true techniques for making the ideal rice, but this recipe comes in way, way above the rest. This method’s simplicity lies in the fact that it doesn’t depend on precise timings or measurements. Some of you will feel really uneasy about this, but just trust me.


  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 russet potato, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • Three tablespoons of butter, thinly sliced, or according to taste
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 ½ tablespoons hot water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, or to taste


Put kosher salt and water in a kettle and heat until boiling. For precisely seven minutes, add the rice and simmer and stir. Empty.

Bring a pot of olive oil to a medium-high simmer. Lay a single layer of potato slices on the bottom of the saucepan. On top of potatoes, sprinkle salt and cumin. Simmer potatoes for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are sizzling; sprinkle rice on top to create an even coating. Spoon rice with sliced butter and turn down the heat to low.

Lay a layer of freshly laundered paper towels on top of the pot and cover with the lid. About 45 minutes of steaming will make the rice fluffy.

Use a pestle and mortar to grind the saffron threads. In a large basin, combine crushed saffron with 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water. To the saffron mixture, add a few spoonfuls of rice, and stir until the rice turns yellow.

Transfer any leftover rice to a serving bowl. Line the bowl’s edges with potatoes and sprinkle saffron rice on top. Sprinkle parsley on top.

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