Zafrani Pulao/Indian Saffron Pulao

Easy Zafrani Pulao Recipe | Indian Saffron Pulao Recipe

Zafrani Pulao/ Indian Saffron Pulao

Here I present you today a very simple and easy but exotic Pulao recipe from Indian Cuisine. Zafrani Pulao or Saffron rice, needs no introduction. As the name suggests, it is flavoured with Saffron, topped with nuts and raisins.

A no fuss rice recipe that you can make for festivals /special occasions or weekend meal with your favourite curries. An aromatic blend of whole spices like cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon with saffron, topped with dry fruits like almonds and cashews, gives it a royal touch apt for the meals to be enjoyed with your loved ones.

Zafrani comes from Zafran from Urdu language, which is another name for Saffron or Kesar(Hindi name). The Pulao is known to be cooked in the royals kitchen of Awadh and Hyderabad( mainly the non-vegetarian version) or served with no vegetarian curries like Chicken and Mutton masala. It’s vegetarian version minus meat is now popularly served in restaurants or parties and special occasions. Though it is a no fuss and very easy recipe but since the World’s most expensive spice Saffron is added here, it is not a every day meal item.

Exotic Saffron

Saffron as we all know is the world’s expensive spice. Do you know a pound (454 grams) of dry saffron requires 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of a football field’s area of cultivation (110,000-170,000 flowers or two football fields for a kilogram).

40 hrs of labor are needed to pick 150,000 flowers. Saffron is actually the Stigma of these flowers. Stigmas are dried quickly upon extraction and (preferably) sealed in airtight containers.

Medicinally, saffron has a long history as part of traditional healing, modern medicine has also discovered saffron as having anticarcinogenic (cancer-suppressing), immunity boasting and antioxidant-like properties.
Early studies show that saffron may protect the eyes from the direct effects of bright light and retinal stress. Saffron has also been used as a fabric dye, particularly in China and India, and in perfumery.(Source: Google).

How to test the quality of Saffron

Though it is very difficult to tell about the quality and whether it is adulterated or not. But a good quality saffron expands when added to warm water or milk.

Tagging this exotic Zafrani Pulao to my Facebook group Foodie Monday Bloghop group where the theme this week is Exotic Saffron. This wonderful theme was suggested by Mayuri Patel from Mayuri’s Jikoni. All the participating co-bloggers will be bringing their exotic saffron dishes..

Mayuriji made this delicious Saffron Tapioca Pudding using Saffron for the theme. I am in love with her style of writing where she shares her life experiences through her food related posts. Her another pudding Rose Saffron and Pandan  is in my to make list.

I am posting for the group and infact for the blog after a few weeks . Last month we moved back to India and right now we are staying at my parents as our apartment is under renovation. In all the transition and spending time with them, I was posting less frequently. And then 2 weeks back I suffered muscle injury in my lower back and I was put on bed rest for about 10 days. Injury is now getting better and I can move around a little. So I decided to make it for the theme and here I am after a mini break with this delicious Pulao for my readers. It is soon going to be festival time and this Zafrani Pulao perfectly suits the occasion and theme.

Ingredients for Zafrani Pulao/ Indian Saffron Pulao

As the name suggests the two main ingredients for this royal delicacy are Rice and Saffron.

Rice-Always use a good quality Basmati Rice. I have not used any other rice variety to prepare it, so can’t comment.

Saffron– 10-12 Kesar or Saffron threads, to add in milk.

Milk-To make Saffron infused milk.

Other Spices– Cardamom, Bay Leaf, Cloves, Cinnamon enhance the flavour and add aroma to this royal rice dish.

Barista Onions– Crispy Fried Onions, added to Biryanis. We do not add any spice mix like Garam Masala to Zafrani Pulao so, Barista Onions enhance overall taste of this pulao.

How to make Zafrani Pulao

As mentioned above it is a no fuss recipe and you can easily prepare it in one pot. Select a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai. You can make it in pressure cooker also. Here in the post I am giving open pot recipe, will soon update the Instant method with pics too.

Some pointers to make perfect Zafrani Pulao with khila khila rice(separate rice grains)..

  • Wash rice 2-3 times water.
  • Soak for at least 20-30 mins.
  • Add water 1 cup more than the quantity of rice. That means, if for 1 cup rice add about  then add about 2 cups of water.
  • Keep aside some fried nuts for garnish.
  • Keep the rice covered for about 5-10 mins. after pulao is cooked.
  • Use a fork to fluff the rice and do it very gently, else rice grains will break and pulao will become mushy.

Detailed recipe method along with ingredients is in the recipe card

Zafrani Pulao

What to serve with Zafrani Pulao

Zafrani Pulao goes well with any of Indian curries or dals. OR, you can enjoy it simply with Raita of your choice, some pickle if you want to just enjoy taste of this royal rice dish.

Meethe Chawal, another rice dish with exotic saffron made for auspicious Basant Panchami is prepared in almost the same way but is sweetened with jaggery.

Curries that your can pair up with Zafrani Pulao- Matar Paneer, Mushroom Matar, Dum Aloo, Shahi Paneer Kofta, Kadhai Mushroom, Paneer Makhani, Chana Masala, Pindi Chole, Dal Makhani,

Want more Pulao or Biryani dishes for your special occasions.. checkout this link with about 24 different A-Z Biryani Pulao and Rice dishes.

Recipe Card for Zafrani Pulao/Indian Saffron Rice

Zafrani Pulao/ Indian Saffron Pulao

Zafrani Pulao/ Indian Saffron Rice

Aromatic and Flavored with
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Rice Soaking Time 30 mins
Course Main
Cuisine Awadhi Cuisine, Indian
Servings 4


  • Heavy bottomed Pan


  • 2 Cups Basmati Rice
  • 1 Cup Thinly sliced Onions prefer red onions
  • 10-12 Saffron Strands
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Mixed Nuts like Almonds, Cashew Nuts and Raisins
  • 1/4 Cup Ghee
  • Salt as required

Whole Spices

  • 1-2 Bay Leaves
  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 4-5 Black Pepper
  • 1 Cinnamon stick(small)
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 4-5 Green Cardamoms


  • Wash Rice in running tap water 2-3 times.
  • Then soak it in enough water for about 2-30 mins.

Make Saffron milk

  • In lukewarm milk ad saffron stands and let it stand till we use it in milk. Prepare this also about 30 mins, ahead of making Pulao.

Prepare Barista Onions

  • Heat ghee/oil in kadhai or heavy bottomed pan, add onions and fry on medium heat. Keep on stirring onions, till it turns deep brown in color.
  • Separate fried onions from the extra ghee and take out fried onions in a bowl and keep aside.

Prepare Pulao

  • In the same ghee, add whole spices, on medium to low flame, sauté for a minute and then add nuts and fry till it starts giving the aroma of fried nuts.
  • Take out some nuts and keep aside to add as garnish.
  • Drain water from rice, add to kadhai, sauté rice for a few seconds.
  • Add Saffron milk, mix it and then add water about 3 cups. Add salt and then mix well.
  • Cover and cook rice, till it soaks all the water and rice grains are cooked. This takes another 10-15 mins or as much time as your steamed rice takes to cook.
  • Check rice grains for doneness. Press between the thumb and index finger. It should not feel coarse.
  • Once rice is done, switch off the flame and keep the rice covered for about 5-10 mins.
  • Then, remove the lid and then lightly fluff rice with fork.
  • Add Barista onions and very gently fold in rice.
  • Serve hot topped with more barista with your favourite curry.


For Vegan Version- Skip Ghee, use almond milk or only lukewarm water to soak saffron. 
Keyword Indian Saffron Rice

Zafrani Pulao-Pin image

Do try this delicious and exotic Zafrani Pulao for your special occasion. I am sure you and your  special ones will surely love it.

Whenever you make it, do give me your feedback in comments. You can post your feedback with the pic on my FB page or tag me on Instagram(#foodtrails25).  Pin the recipe for later use.

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Author: Swati

Some who believes 'EAT WELL, READ DAILY, TRAVEL OFTEN AND LAUGH KHUL KE'!!! Hi!! Swati here!!! Chef, Chocolatier, food admirer, reader, love to travel, listen to music, Bollywood and shoot nature and food pics!! Welcome to my Foodtrails and join me in my food adventure!!

24 thoughts

  1. I hope you are better now Swati. Take care! As for the pulao I am hunting for my spoon and plate it is yummy and will feel better in my tummy! 😀 One of the best pulaos that you can make with any curry.

  2. I love this zafrani pulao, yours looks so inviting Swaty. loads of dry fruits saffron and aromatic spices are surely enhancing the taste and flavor.

  3. I had this on my mind then made somethign else.. its commendable how each strand of the rice is standing apart, beautifully decked by the Birista (fried onions)

  4. Zafrani pulao looks very rich, delicious and no need to tell about its aroma. Very well presented with step by step pics, it is in my wish list from long time. Now your recipe tempting me, will try this soon.

  5. Zafrani Pulao is a royal treat for all Pulao lovers. It is so flavorful and delicious with the goodness of saffron and nuts. I hope you have recovered from your muscle I just. Do take care and rest well.

  6. Zafrani pulao looks so inviting Swaty. Loved the use of barista in pulao. Lots of dry fruits saffron and aromatic whole spices wow I can imagine the taste and flavour. Can’t wait to try. Also loved your click.

  7. Such a mouthwatering zafrani pulao with the subtle lemony colour from the saffron. Simple and yet so flavorful, its a must try dish for me as I love adding saffron and nuts to some of the rice dishes I prepare.

  8. Beautiful click and it is making me salivate right away . Loved the way the rice has been cooked grainy and fluffy. Reminds me off the zaffrani pulao scene in cheeni kum movie

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