Easy Persian Saffron Rice (with Rose Water)

A quick and easy Persian style rice with flavours of saffron and rose water, without the customary tahdeeg.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Easy Persian Rice, A Cheat's Guide

This Easy Persian Rice recipe came about because some of my students asked for a quick and super easy Persian style rice recipe; without the customary tahdig, that golden crunchy bottom rice layer, the crowning glory of all Persian rice dishes!

It has all the flavours and aroma of the real thing but cooked in less time.

Persian food is one of the oldest, most glorious cuisines in the world. Its influence can be found far and wide. There are so many different types of Persian rice dishes, from the complicated to the not so complicated, from the bejewelled to the “ordinary” like this one.

Persian Rice Tahdig
Persian Rice Tahdig

In Persian cooking, to achieve fluffy and perfect rice, it is first parboiled in plenty of water, very much like cooking pasta, drained then steamed until done. The steaming here is not the traditional steaming method that we know, it’s just finishing the rice off on the stove with a tight fitting lid and a tea towel, creating a whole lot of steam in the pot.

Rice cooked this way is called chelow (chelo), which is just steamed white rice or polow (polo), which is when it’s mixed with other ingredients like meat, vegetables and fruit. Here on LinsFood, we have 2 other Persian rice recipes. The first one, is your basic Persian rice, complete with tahdig (click for recipe). Today’s recipe is a simplified version of that recipe.

The second one, Morasa Polow, is the King of all rice dishes; Persian Jewelled Rice, as its name suggest, twinkles and shines with ingredients like pistachios, carrots and zereshk (barberries).

Morasa Polow, Persian Jewelled Rice
Morasa Polow, Persian Jewelled Rice

Easy Persian Rice Recipe

Today’s recipe, Easy Persian Rice, is exactly that. I employ the ingredients necessary to achieve the aroma of Persian rice, but the method is the standard absorption method of cooking rice, which means that it takes less than 30 minutes altogether to cook it. The downside of this is that you don’t have any accompanying tahdig, or crunchy layer. But you can’t always have everything!

Seriously though, it may be an easy recipe, but you are getting flavour and aroma with it, from the butter, saffron and rose water. I make it for my kids quite often, because they do love aromatic rice.

How to make Liquid Saffron (Bloomed Saffron)
How to make Liquid Saffron or Bloomed Saffron at home, an indispensable ingredient in the Persian kitchen, but perfect for all cuisines.
Originally published in 2016. Republished with updated content July 2023.
Check out this ingredient
liquid saffron, bloomed saffron in a white teaspoon resting on a grey mortar

How to Use Barberries (Zereshk, an essential Persian ingredient)

A simple explanation on how to use barberries in your kitchen.
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Add to Collection
Course: Ingredients
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: ingredients, persian, spices
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Author: Azlin Bloor
Cost: £5/100g ($2/oz)



As a cooking ingredient

  • Soak them in tepid water for about 10 minutes, squeeze dry and use whole or chopped up.

As a garnish

  • Sauté them in butter and a little sugar to counteract the tartness, before using them whole.

You’ll find exact methods in the recipes that I use them in, see my article above.

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    Ingredients for Easy Persian Rice


    As many of us will not have access to Persian rice, Basmati is the perfect substitute.

    Liquid Saffron

    This is how I use saffron in my kitchen, the Persian way. It is just a case of crushing some saffron and soaking it in hot water. You can read more about how to make it here and see a quick tutorial of it on my YouTube Channel here.

    Rose Water

    We use it as a final sprinkle, to impart a musky, rose scent to the rice. The scent of rose or orange blossom is one of the identifying features of Middle Eastern cooking.

    Rose water should be easily found in the baking section of wherever you shop. Failing that, a shop selling cake decorating and making supplies ought to stock it. You could substitute it with orange blossom water, if you like.


    From the pictures here, you can see that I’ve garnished the rice, which is completely optional. You can go with just some rose petals or some flaked or slithered nuts like pistachios or almonds.

    The green of pistachio is always very effective, and you’ll find it a very popular topping in Middle Eastern cooking because of that. Zereshk, or barberries are also another good choice, as are pomegranate seeds, for their colour. You can read about barberries here.

    How to serve our Easy Persian Rice?

    Well, that’s an easy question! Any Middle Eastern, North African and Indian dishes that will go with rice can be served with our Easy Persian Rice. Here are some examples:

    Lamb Shank and Rhubarb Tagine
    Lamb Shank and Rhubarb Tagine, an original recipe that draws inspiration from the Persian Khoresh Rivas, which is a rhubarb and meat stew. Perfect spring recipe!
    Get the Recipe!
    Lamb Shank and Rhubarb Tagine
    Beef rendang
    Beef Rendang or rendang daging, in Malay/Indonesian, is a curry fit for a King. It’s a curry with meltingly tender beef that’s been slow cooked in a rich, aromatic and highly spiced coconut gravy that will keep you coming back for more. And more!
    Get the Recipe!
    Khoresh Bademjan Recipe (Persian Eggplant Stew, خورش بادمجان)
    Khoresh Bademjan is a Persian Eggplant Stew with meltingly tender meat, and perfect served with some rice. You'll also find suggestions for a vegetarian version.
    Get the Recipe!
    Khoresh Bademjan (Persian Eggplant Stew, خورش بادمجان)

    If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

    And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

    Lin xx

    Easy Persian Saffron Rice

    Easy Persian Saffron Rice (with Rose Water)

    A quick and easy Persian style rice with flavours of saffron and rose water, without the customary tahdeeg.
    4.98 from 107 votes
    Print Pin Add to Collection
    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Persian
    Keyword: persian, rice
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 24 minutes
    Total Time: 29 minutes
    Servings: 8 (6-8)
    Calories: 299kcal
    Author: Azlin Bloor


    • 600 g Basmati rice
    • 2 Tbsp salted butter
    • 875 ml water
    • 3 Tbsp liquid saffron
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp rose water

    Garnish (optional)

    • Edible Dried Rose Petals
    • Pistachios
    • Almonds
    • Pine Nuts
    • Barberries


    • Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
    • Heat the butter on medium heat and fry the rice for a minute, stirring and coating the rice with the butter.
    • Add the water and increase the heat to high. Add the liquid saffron and salt and stir to mix.
    • Cook on high heat until the water has evaporated and little steam vents (holes) appear on the surface of the rice.
    • Put a close fitting lid on, lower the heat right down and cook for 14 minutes.
    • Take the saucepan off the heat and leave the rice to rest for 5 minutes.
    • Sprinkle the rose water all over and fluff the rice up with a fork and serve while hot. Garnish with the rose petals and nuts, if using.


    Serving: 8 | Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 89IU | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
    Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

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    32 thoughts on “Easy Persian Saffron Rice (with Rose Water)”

    1. 5 stars
      I made this for a potluck my son’s Islam class at uni, who are having a Ramadan meal together. We are not Muslim or Persian, but we do love Middle Eastern food! This turned out very well and looks so pretty; I’m sure they will love it. It’s perfect for Nowruz also!

      I put barberries in the rice, as well as on top, as per your jewelled rice recipe. Next time, I will try for the tahdeeg!

    2. Neville Ovenden

      Hi Azlin, not a comment on your recipe, however many years ago when I was a window fitter the customer who was Iraqi made us a lunch of chicken and rice and said it was a special dish used at weddings in Iraq, I have never forgotten the taste of the rice, which was sublime, soooo tasty !!! I ate my partners share as well. I asked the customer what type of rice it was she replied Saffron with rosewater, to my nose it smelled like cats urine, but as I said tasted divine, your blog whatever you call it is the first time I have come across any reference to the fact that this recipe has a musty smell (urine) do you think this recipe is the one we had all those years ago (late 70,s), hope you answer because I have searched without success all these years so that I could replicate this dish many thanks in advance Neville.

      1. Hi Neville, haha, I don’t think I’ve ever heard rose water being likened to cat’s urine in aroma!
        To my knowledge, there are 2 popular Iraqi rice dishes that are typically served at weddings. One is Quzi, where a whole lamb is roasted and served on a bed of rice, and the other, is the Iraqi biryani.
        If I am cooking either, I would still be using saffron and rose water to flavour the rice.
        All I can say, the only way to know, is to give this rice a try, and see what you think of the flavour and aroma.
        I reckon that it’s not going to be exactly the way you remember it, as it was a long time ago, and no 2 recipes are going to be the same.

    3. Michael Kane

      Cool, just came over from your detailed one. I like this too. I see what you mean, if one isn’t bothered about the crunch, but still got the aroma.

    4. Another great looking photo and recipe! I’m going to pin this because I’ve always wanted to try something like this. Can’t wait to make it!

      1. Rosewater is very traditional as a cooking ingredient and garnish right across the Middle East and North Africa. As it is in South Asia (India, etc) too. Thank you Rezel.

    5. Constance Smith

      I’m always looking for new ways to make rice, and you have just opened up many more possibilities!

    6. Carol Manfred

      Wow, this is so nice. So similar in looks to Nasi Minyak but I can see from the ingredients, it won’t taste the same. Thanks, added to my LinsFood folder!

    7. Thank you, just saw this recipe on Google+. I’ve bookmarked it, looking forward to making it.

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