saffron rice with golden raisins and pine nuts

by Kristina Sloggett

in cookbook review

Today I am participating in a Virtual Book Launch Party for my friend Faith Gorsky and her new cookbook, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair (she writes a blog with the same name). The book features more than one hundred Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East.

The recipes in this beautiful book are authentic Middle Eastern, with easy to follow and approachable methods. Taught many of these dishes by her mother in law, Faith explains techniques and demystifies ingredients, and the result is delicious.

The recipe I made for the Virtual Book Launch is easy to prepare and exceptionally tasty – Jason and I both loved this and I have made it twice already!

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts 


Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission. 

Serves 4 to 6  

Preparation Time: 10 minutes  

Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking 

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric) 

  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil. 
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside. 
  1. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil. 
  2. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork. 
  3. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve. 

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

Are you a fan of Middle Eastern dishes? Faith’s beautiful cookbook is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liz @ I Heart Vegetables November 9, 2012 at 3:49 am

YUM! I just had pine nuts in a kale salad this week and I forgot how delicious they are! This dish sounds awesome!


2 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 6:05 am

I know, I rarely use them unless I am making pesto – this needs to change!


3 Heather (Where's the Beach) November 9, 2012 at 5:13 am

That dish looks beautiful. Simple and beautiful (and so does that cookbook). I’ve really never had a great deal of Middle Eastern food to be honest.


4 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 6:07 am

I have a good friend who is Middle Eastern (which means I have MANY friends, because I know all of his siblings and cousins…) and I have been treated to many Middle Eastern dishes with him – they all cook wonderfully, and one of his cousins has a restaurant… OOH it is fun to go there! :)


5 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table November 9, 2012 at 5:37 am

Obv this looks delicious, but my favorite thing about this recipe? You called the golden raisins “sultanas.” It makes them sound so fancy! :)


6 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 6:08 am

well, the recipe is Faith’s so she called them that, but yes, I agree to the fancy 😉


7 Ashley F. November 9, 2012 at 7:04 am

Looks so good – and easy! I love Middle Eastern cuisine, I will have to check out this cookbook!


8 jobo November 9, 2012 at 7:45 am

Um, yum. LOVE Mediterranean food and this looks awesome!


9 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

then you would love this rice and the whole book! :)


10 Kelly November 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

beautiful pics, thanks for the review of the book it looks nice I just ordered it thankyou


11 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

thanks, Kelly! and yes, the book is wonderful – enjoy it!


12 Heather @ Better With Veggies November 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

I LOVE middle eastern dishes, there’s so many flavors that really take center stage in their dishes. I love seasonings!


13 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

I do too – wonderful rich flavors!


14 Jenn November 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

Love Saffron, this looks delicious!


15 Macey November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

Ooh, this looks so hearty and delicious! How can you stand having all this yummy food around all the time?! I think I would be in a food coma permanently. lol!


16 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

I must be… 😉


17 Marlynn @UrbanBlissMedia November 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

Looks stunning — and delicious! I am sure the raisins could be omitted, but to keep the full flavors of the dish, would you have any recommendations for anything else that could be a similar substitute for the flavor & texture? We only have one raisin lover in our house :)


18 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

hi Marlynn! yes, you could just leave them out – one thing I thought of using in place of raisins was dried apricots – they would bring a sweet tart flavor that may not be traditional but I think would work well.


19 Kari Hamilton November 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

YUM! I am pregnant and I want this dish to just jump right out of the computer onto my table!!! It looks soooooooo good!!! Thanks for sharing!


20 spabettie November 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

hi Kari – and congrats on your pregnancy! :) this is a wonderful dish – very easy to make! cheers!


21 Susannah November 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Yummy!! Middle eastern food is the best! :-)


22 spabettie November 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

these dishes are some of my favorite flavors as well – we really loved this rice!


23 Faith November 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I am absolutely honored to have you participating in my virtual book launch party, Kristina! Thank you so much, my friend.

And you just made my day – so happy you guys are enjoying the rice!!


24 spabettie November 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

and I am honored you wanted me to be a part of this – your book is beautiful, congrats again, my friend!


25 Liz November 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I make rice all the time and was impressed how much better this was than mine! So fun to celebrate Faith’s book launch with you~


26 spabettie November 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

I agree, this was SO good – I will be making this again! this has been a festive week with all the blog love going on – I like it!


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