Cumin seeds, saffron, dried fruits and nuts give a fragrant note to this traditional rice dish.
Recipe courtesy of Mohammed Aslam
45 min
15 min
4 servings


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 (3-inch) piece cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped blanched almonds
  • 2 teaspoons raisins
  • 7 ounces basmati rice, washed until the water runs clear, drained
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 ready-to-eat dried figs, chopped, plus extra to serve
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts or pistachios


Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over a low heat. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and bay leaf, and fry for 20 to 30 seconds, or until the spices are fragrant. Add the onion, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the almonds and raisins, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, and stir well to coat it in the spiced oil. 

Add the water, saffron water, and half of the chopped figs, and season, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook the mixture for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the rice is tender, but still has a slight bite. Add the remaining figs and the chopped nuts, and stir well, fluffing the rice with a fork as you stir. Set the pan aside for 4 to 5 minutes to allow any excess water to evaporate, and then serve.

Cook's Note

*Can be found at specialty Asian markets.

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