Saffron Rice is a Persian rice dish made with saffron, basmati rice, and fragrant spices.
The rice has a subtle yet deep yellow color and a distinctly perfumed aroma.
The taste of Saffron Rice varies from mildly aromatic to strongly savory and spicy (due to the use of whole dried saffron strands) depending on the grade and quality of saffron used.
Saffron is not considered a major ingredient per se but rather a colorant and aromatic flavoring agent.
The rice has a mild and creamy taste and consistency. When prepared correctly, Saffron Rice is light yellow.
This rice dish is traditionally prepared using saffron threads or powder, among the most expensive spices by weight.
Saffron Rice has a distinctive flavor and a very pleasant taste.
This rice dish is generally served with grilled, roasted, or broiled meat and fish dishes and the vegetarian equivalents, such as cheese nan-e bademjan or eggplant stew.
In this article, we will list the best side dishes for saffron rice.
This article will be particularly useful to cooks who would like to prepare Saffron Rice at home or anyone planning a dinner party with friends and family.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes for Saffron Rice?
Saffron rice is a popular Persian rice dish that is often served with Kebabs to bring out the flavor of the meat.
However, the grains are bland and dry on their own, making them ideal for being tempered with other ingredients or usually prepared as a salad after being tossed in herbs and scallions.
Saffron rice does not have any dominant flavor, and these same characteristics allow it to marry well with a wide selection of dishes.
Unlike other rice varieties, Saffron rice does not come from a single place or country, which gives it an international appeal desired by many people worldwide who have been introduced to the recipe either as a part of their traditional cuisine or while traveling abroad.
Due to this, the dish is often served as an alternative to rice dishes like pilafs which can often be too heavy and might not go well with some meals.
The use of saffron in Saffron rice makes it a delicacy that has gained popularity for its healing properties, along with the fact that there are a wide variety of dishes that one can prepare with it.
Rice is one of the most popular dishes globally, and many people use it regularly as part of their diet.
Since this dish does not have much flavor by itself, one can be creative with it and serve alongside many different types of foods such as fish, crab cakes, or even soups, depending on the region in which it is being served.
Although this dish is not heavy, the meal can feel satisfying when one has a large serving of Saffron rice with sides such as salads, vegetables, and even fruit.
It is important to note that Saffron rice goes well with many different foods because of its neutral flavor, making it the ideal addition to many meals.
What to Serve with Saffron Rice? 8 BEST Side Dishes
Here are some of the most delicious side dishes that one can serve with Saffron rice.
1 – Carrot and Apple Slaw
This is a great side dish for saffron rice that’s light but still tastes delicious.
You’ll need a shredded carrot, shredded apple (a different variety than the carrots), and some red cabbage to make this recipe.
If you don’t like one of these ingredients, feel free to swap it out for something else.
Mix the grated apple, carrot, and cabbage in a bowl with mayonnaise, sour cream, or Greek yogurt.
This is a refreshing meal that will complement any main dish perfectly.
2 – Persian Rice Salad
This recipe works great for saffron rice because it’s packed with tons of fresh ingredients that taste delicious on their own or together.
You’ll need rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs like dill and parsley, dried fruit like cranberries and raisins, onion, garlic yogurt sauce (recipe below), salt, and pepper.
To start the recipe off, you’ll want to cook your rice according to package directions.
While this is happening, cut up the vegetables and fruit you purchased into bite-size pieces.
You can then combine your rice with the vegetables and fruit that you prepared in a bowl.
Mix the yogurt with garlic, salt, pepper (to taste), and dill to make the dressing before pouring it over the saffron rice mixture.
Garnish with parsley and serve.
3 – Spicy Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)
This recipe is great because it’s super easy to make and tastes great with many different foods.
All you have to do is heat some oil in a pan over medium heat, then add your broccoli rabe.
Once the sauce starts to sizzle, turn it down to low and let it cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
After it’s cooked, add some crushed red pepper and cook for another five minutes before serving.
Saffron rice tastes great with this recipe because the strong flavors of both the rapini and red pepper complement the subtle flavors of saffron itself.
If you didn’t know any better, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that the rice was there at all.
4 – Yogurt Dill Sauce
This sauce is best when served over vegetables, but it’s also great served alongside saffron rice.
You’ll need Greek yogurt, dill, garlic powder, or fresh garlic, salt, and pepper to make this recipe.
You mix the yogurt, garlic, and dill, then stir in some salt and pepper.
The best part of this recipe is that it’s super easy to make, and the ingredients are inexpensive.
The sauce goes great sprinkled over saffron rice or as a dip for veggies.
5 – Korean Cucumber Salad
If you’re looking for a side dish with lots of flavors, I really recommend trying out this recipe.
This salad is super easy to make and tastes great.
You’ll need sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, sour cream or yogurt, salt, pepper, and sesame oil.
You can mix all of these ingredients in a bowl before serving the cucumber salad with your saffron rice for an extra delicious meal.
The flavors of this dish complement each other perfectly, and it will taste great alongside saffron.
Feel free to add some green onion if you want to make the flavors pop even more.
6 – Basmati Rice Pilaf with Peas and Onions
This recipe is great alongside saffron rice because it’s so simple but still tastes delicious.
You’ll need two chopped onions, minced garlic cloves, vegetable broth, basmati rice, frozen peas, salt, and pepper.
The first step is to saute the onion and garlic cloves in some butter for about five minutes before adding your rice.
Once your rice is added, you’ll need to let it sit with the butter and onions for one minute, then pour vegetable broth over the top.
Add some salt and pepper (to taste) and cover the pan.
Once your rice is cooked, you can serve it next to some frozen peas tossed in at the end.
This side dish also tastes great with chicken or fish.
7 – Carrots & Radishes With Yogurt Dip
This recipe works great as a healthy appetizer or snack, but it also goes great with saffron rice.
All you need to make this recipe is a cup of yogurt, half a tablespoon of shredded mint, one tablespoon lemon juice, and salt.
You can make the dip by simply mixing all of these ingredients or placing them in separate bowls for an appetizer that everyone will enjoy.
The saffron in this dish might even get your guests to eat extremely healthy carrots.
8 – Avocado Egg Salad
This article has many great suggestions for what to serve with saffron rice.
This recipe is so simple to make and tastes delicious.
You mash up some avocado, add five chopped hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
You can make the egg salad as spicy as you want by adding extra hot sauce (if you like some spice).
This recipe is great by itself or as a sandwich on rye bread.
It’s also very easy to make and stores well in the fridge, so this is another option that’s perfect if you’re bringing food to a party.
Saffron rice works great with many different side dishes, so it’s easy to be inspired by these recipes.
Making your saffron rice is also super easy, and the recipe can be tweaked to fit your tastes.
If you’re looking for more side dish recipes that go great with saffron rice, try non-traditional rice recipes or other unique side dishes.
You can also try making some of these recipes with different ingredients to see if you like them better that way.