With Autumn officially starting tomorrow and cooler days coming our way (at least in this part of the world!), I thought it’s time for something warm and comforting. This Saffron & Pistachio rice pudding is exactly that, warm, creamy, slightly sweet with a hint of saffron, cinnamon and nutmeg spices, something that is easy to make with a few ingredients but tastes and looks so good you can serve it at any party or to any guests you are having. Yes, it is a rice pudding but not an ordinary one, this one has a special ingredient – saffron that makes it kind of fancy since saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. However, you need only a very small quantity here and it’s so worth it for that occasional special treat!
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas. Those delicate stigmas are called threads, they are bright orange-red colour and are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Saffron’s flavour is compared to that of honey and it’s also rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C and a good source of many minerals. Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, Arab, and Turkish cuisines…
The inspiration for this recipe comes from two facts. First one was that I had this saffron for quite a few months now and I wanted to start using it finally. Second, for the last few months one of the most popular recipes on Travelling oven, the one that is getting so many views is my simple, modest but oh-so-good Almond milk rice pudding with raspberry sauce (you can find it here). So those two things were the reason I created this delicious and a bit fancy rice pudding. I mean, of course I’m not the first one who made this and actually these kind of rice puddings with saffron are very popular in Indian cuisine but this is my version. 🙂 Of course, I made it refined sugar-free too so I used agave syrup as a sweetener but would work equally well with a mild honey.
Another beautiful ingredient here is pistachio! Pistachios are delicious tree nuts recognized for their wholesome nutrition properties and they offer good sources of protein, fats, and minerals. Often they are sold already salted so make sure you buy the not salted ones for this dessert.
- ½ cup white rice (medium or short grain, like arborio)
- 3 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond)
- 4 tbsp agave syrup (or honey)
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅓ tsp nutmeg
- pinch of saffron threads
- Topping: chopped un-salted pistachios, sugar (I used coconut sugar)
- Note: 1 cup = 250 ml
- In a medium size saucepan add 3 cups of milk, rice, agave syrup (or honey), cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
- Bring to boil over medium heat and let it cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn.
- In a small cup add a pinch of saffron threads and 2-3 tbsp of hot water, stir well so the saffron release its orange/yellow colour and flavour.
- When most of the liquid (milk) is already absorbed, add those saffron threads and liquid to the rice and add another splash of milk if needed (if it's too dry).
- Stir and leave to cook for few more minutes.
- Set aside and leave to cool slightly.
- Serve in bowls and top with chopped pistachios and a sprinkle of sugar (I used coconut sugar). Enjoy!