Persian Rice

This is the basic Persian method for cooking rice. It is used by many eastern cultures for long-grain (basmati) rice. Original recipe from Chef John of

Notes and edits by Jimi. 

Serves ~ 8


  • At least a 5qt pot with lid
  • Thin towel (flour-sack towels work great)
  • Peeler & knife
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Large bowl
  • Microwave-safe coffee cup or measuring cup


  • 2 C basmati rice
    • Rinsed until water is clear
    • Soak in water 15-30min
    • Drain completely
  • 3 QT water
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices (or Yukon Gold or Red)
  • Pinch of salt and ground cumin for potatoes
  • 5 or 6 thick slices of butter for top of rice
  • Generous pinch of saffron, ground and mixed with 1.5 T hot water1
  • Almond slivers or crushed pistachio to garnish


  1. Bring the 3 Qt salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the rinsed rice to the boiling pot and set timer for 7min, stirring occasionally.
  3. Drain the rice into a colander and set aside.
  4. Rinse out the pot and dry, then add olive oil to coat the bottom over med-high heat and add the potato slices.
  5. When the potatoes are sizzling, sprinkle salt and cumin on top of the potatoes
  6. Reduce the heat to low, then gently add the rice back in. Make sure the top is level.
  7. Add the butter slices on top, then cover the pot with a paper towel or tea towel stretched under the lid and allow rice to steam for 45min.
  8. Meanwhile, add a pinch or two of saffron to a quarter cup of hot water and let it steep.
  9. When the rice is done, turn out (or flip) into a large bowl or serving dish.
  10. Take 1C of the rice and toss with the saffron liquid, then mix it back in with the rest of the rice. Garnish with parsley or almond slivers.


  • 1If you can find dried edible rose petals, you can prepare them the same way you would the saffron, in a separate cup and add it the same way to a separate cup of rice. 
  • During the soaking and initial boiling, you can add some chicken stock to the water for a deeper flavor. The same goes for Bay leaf and possibly coconut water. (although I wouldn’t necessarily do all of them at once).
  • You will be tempted to add some kind of liquid to the pot when finally cooking the rice with the potatoes. Trust the method. The parboil and potatoes have more than enough liquid. Besides, have you had crispy rice edges?

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