Saffron Moroccan Rice Pilaf

This Moroccan rice pilaf is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Basmati rice seasoned with saffron, turmeric, and cinnamon and topped with almonds, pistachios, and dried fruits.

There is something wonderfully delightful about a great rice pilaf and this dish is no exception. Basmati rice is the staple for this kind of dish and all of the wonderful ingredients make for a great vegetarian side dish. One of the best things about this recipe is that it can all be done in one pot and a microwaveable cup. This is a perfect dish for those who want a flavorful dish with very little fuss. There are only 5 step in this recipe.

In this Moroccan rice pilaf

This recipe can be broken down into 4 parts the rice, spices, nuts, and fruit. While saffron is in this recipe you do not need to include it. However, I suggest if you can get a hold of some then use it. Your tongue will thank you.

Basmati rice: this is the staple for this type of pilaf. It is perfect due to its aroma and flavor. However, if you do not have any on hand the best replacement would be jasmine rice.

Warming spices: these include cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom. Fennel and coriander round out the flavors.

Almonds and Pistachios: these will provide a nice texture with the rice as well as add some earthy flavors that will complement both the herbs and the dried fruit.

Dried fruit: this can be cranberries, raisins, sultanas (golden raisins), dates, apricots, or even figs. The combination I use is 3 equal parts by weight of dried cranberries, raisins or sultanas, and apricots.  

Ingredients for Moroccan rice pilaf on a wooden cutting board
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Blooming the spices

There are two ways to bloom the spices in this recipe. By blooming the spices you will add heat and oil or water to extract all of their wonderful flavors. Adding the saffron to the boiling vegetable stock will help draw out its flavors so they permeate the dish. By cooking the remaining spices in oil the heat draws out their flavors. Once they become fragrant it is the perfect time to add the onions and shallots. Further enhancing their flavor.

Bloomed saffron in vegetable stock
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Onions in bloomed spices in a cast iron casserole dish
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Vegetable stock added to the rice
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Cooked rice in a cast iron casserole dish
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Dried fruit added to Moroccan rice pilaf
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Rinsing the rice

One of the important steps in making a nice fluffy pilaf is to make sure that you rinse the rice off well. You will want to place the rice in a colander and rinse and gently shake the colander. You will want to do this until the water runs clear. This will remove all of the excess starch on the rice and prevent it from getting sticky when it cooks. This is a nifty trick to getting those wonderful individual grains for any rice dish you make.

Casserole dish with Moroccan rice pilaf with a serving spoon
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Don’t open the lid immediately

Allow the rice to rest after cooking for about 10 minutes. This is one of the most overlooked steps when it comes to cooking rice. By allowing the rice to sit off of the heat the steam inside can evenly distribute and allow the rice at the top to become just a soft and fluffy as the rice on the bottom. By opening the lid too soon you run the risk of having uneven rice in the dish. The rice at the top might be firm while the rice at the bottom becomes mushy. Fluff with a fork and then add in the fruit and nuts.

Moroccan rice pilaf ready to serve in a casserole dish
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Looking for other rice recipes?

Moroccan rice pilaf in a cast iron casserole dish
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Saffron Moroccan Rice Pilaf

This rice pilaf is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Basmati rice seasoned with saffron, turmeric, and cinnamon and topped with almonds, pistachios, and dried fruits.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 8 servings
Calories 258 kcal


  • Casserole pan, suitable for stove top
  • Colander
  • Microwave safe cup or bowl
  • Wooden spoon


  • 2 ¼ cups vegetable stock divided
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • ½ cup dried fruits such as cherries, raisins and apricots
  • ¼ cup shallots chopped
  • ¼ cup almonds slivered
  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground fennel
  • 9 strands saffron


Blooming the saffron

  • In a microwave safe cup or bowl take ¼ cup of the stock and bring to a boil in the microwave. Add the saffron and allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.
  • In a colander rinse the rice until the water runs clear, about 2 minutes.

Blooming the spices

  • In a casserole pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add all of the spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions, salt, and shallots and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

Preparing the rice

  • Add the rice to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the saffron infused stock with the remaining vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add half of the dried fruit, pistachios, and almonds. Stir to mix well. Then top with the remaining almonds, dried fruit, and pistachios.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 258kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 5gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 427mgPotassium: 286mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 457IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer*
Keyword Dried Fruit, Pilaf, Saffron
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Moroccan rice pilaf pinterest pin
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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