To help us learn more about Persian (a.k.a. Iranian) food, we turned to culinary authority Najmieh Batmanglij. In addition to insight on Persian culinary traditions, she provided us with recipes from her book New Food of Life.

What to buy: When purchasing saffron, choose threads rather than powder, which is too often adulterated with turmeric.

Game plan: These cooking times are for the National Delux rice cooker. The cooking time for rice may vary according to different brands of rice cookers. It is desirable but not essential to soak the rice in 8 cups water with 2 tablespoons salt for 2 to 24 hours. This is especially good for an older rice such as basmati.

Among other long-grained types of rice, choose those that are long, thick, and sleek at the tip.

*For American long-grain rice, as opposed to basmati, use only 3 cups of water and wash the rice once.

  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients (6)

  • 3 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup butter or ghee
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water


  1. Clean and wash 3 cups of rice 5 times in warm water.*
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the saffron water in the rice cooker; gently stir with a wooden spoon and start the cooker.
  3. After 1 1/2 hours, pour saffron water on top of rice. Unplug rice cooker.
  4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes without uncovering the pot.
  5. Remove lid and place a round serving dish over the pot. Hold the dish and the pot tightly together and turn them over to unmold rice. The rice will be like a cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Nush-e Jan!