If you want to summarize the wonderful Iran with one flavour, the final battle will be between saffron and pomegranate. I think it will be a photofinish but saffron will win! It gets the edge because you can smell it while strolling through the colourful bazaars, walking past a teahouse or a nut shop. It’s a wonderful spice derived from a crocus flower of which the threads are plucked and dried. In Iran it is used not only in lots of dishes but also to flavour tea, ice cream and cold drinks. You can find a type of saffron which has more of an orange colour (usually much cheaper); avoid this one. It hardly has any taste. You should get the deep crimson coloured (more expensive) one which is packed with flavour. And that’s what this recipe needs. As soon as I smell this dish, I’m taken back to the beautiful bazaar of Kashan; so let’s travel!


  • 400 gr normal white rice
  • 800 ml hot water
  • 1 tablespoon saffron
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 75 gr sultanas
  • 5 dried figs
  • 5 dates
  • 50 gr cooked or roasted chestnuts
  • Salt


  1. Make the liquid saffron: in a mortar, finely grind the sugar with the saffron; add 100 ml of hot water and set aside to infuse.
  2. Chop the onion, heat some oil in a pan and fry the onion until translucent.
  3. Add the rice and stir.
  4. Sieve the saffron liquid and add the infused water to the rice and 700 ml hot water. Leave to cook on low heat until the liquid has been absorbed and holes appear on the surface of the rice.
  5. Roughly chop the fruits and chestnuts, add them to the cooked rice and mix well.
  6. Cover the pan and leave to rest a few minutes.
  7. Serve it hot.