We Made Andy’s Herb Rice with Saffron & Scallions 🌿🍚

It has been a while since we’ve done a recipe review — the last one we did was for Green Onion Cakes! As loyal subscribers of Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel, we decided to make a recipe made by Andy Baraghani. We’re huge fans of Andy — he’s a huge inspiration and incredibly talented chef. We tossed around the idea of making Molly’s Mushroom Carbonara, but ultimately chose Andy’s Herb Rice with Scallions and Saffron recipe because it was something completely different from what we usually cook.

If you want to create this Persian dish with us, here are the ingredient’s you’ll need:

  • 3 cups basmati rice

  • Kosher salt

  • 4 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rings

  • Enough vegetable oil to cover the scallions in your pan

  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, finely ground

  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves, dark green parts only

  • 3 cups finely chopped tender herbs, such as cilantro, dill, or parsley*

  • 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

*We used 1 ⅓ cup parsley, 1 ⅓ cup dill, and ⅓ cup mint.

🍚 Mediocre Tip: Invite some friends over to help you eat all this food! This is going to make A LOT of rice.

To start, the first thing you want to do is to prepare your rice by rinsing the excess starch off of it and then letting it soak in salted water for at at least an hour.

Since you have some time to kill, you should start chopping your herbs and green onion. Three cups of chopped herbs may not sound like a lot, but trust us, it is. What herbs you use are sort of up to you, as stated above we went for parsley, dill and mint. We opted out of the cilantro because, as Brittany would so lovingly put it, “CILANTRO IS THE DEVIL.”

All your herb are belong to us.

All your herb are belong to us.

Once your cutting board is stained green with the blood of your enemies (and your hands and arms are in pain), you can start prepping the shallots. Thinly slice the shallots into rings using a sharp knife, or if you have a mandoline, feel free to use it. But, as in our Ratatouille Two Ways post, if you’re going to use a mandoline, be very careful — they are cruel monsters that wish to only devour the fingertips of unsuspecting cooks.

When you’ve completed the shallot prep, place them into a small pot and cover them with oil. How much oil you use is going to depend on how big your pot is. Pour in enough oil so that the shallots are covered by about half an inch. Turn the burner on to medium heat and let the shallots fry until they are golden brown. Remove them from the pot and let them cool on some paper towel. Immediately season with salt while they’re still hot and reserve the frying oil to use later.

These are seriously so good.

These are seriously so good.

Finally, prep your saffron water by grinding the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. If you have neither of these, get creative with a bowl and the back of a spoon. Pour in 3 tablespoons of hot water, and stir to dissolve.

🧂 Mediocre Tip: Add a pinch of salt to the saffron threads before your grind them to aid in the grinding process. We did not do this. Do not be like us. (Andy recommends doing this in the video, but it’s not mentioned in the written recipe.)

By now everything has been prepped and your rice should have had a long enough soak. Fill a large pot with salted water and get it boiling (or you could be smart and do this while frying the shallots). Drain your rice and add it to the boiling water. Cook the rice for 5-10 minutes or until the rice is almost cooked through. You’ll know that it’s almost cooked through by tasting one — there should be a bit of a bite still. Once the rice is cooked al dente, drain it and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Once this is done, you are ready to start the final step: assembly.

In the same large pot that you cooked the rice in, pour 3 tablespoons of your reserved shallot oil and 1 tablespoon of the saffron water. Swish it around to distribute it as evenly as possible. Now it’s time to layer! Start by covering the entire bottom of the pot with the lettuce. The recipe says that you don’t want to overlap the leaves, but we did a bit and everything turned out okay. Once you’ve built the base for your dish, add approximately one third of the rice. On top of the rice, add one third of the herbs and one third of the scallions. Repeat this process two more times until you have a mountain of rice layered with herbs.

herb+rice+cooking.jpg

Using the back of a wooden spoon, poke a few holes in the rice. You don’t want to go all the way to the bottom of the pot, but go fairly deep — this will let the steam escape!

Put a clean kitchen towel over the pot and then put the lid on. Turn your burner on to medium and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. This step will finish cooking your rice by steaming it and will caramelize the lettuce. Once the time is up, remove the lid and place 6 (divided) tablespoons of butter around the rice. Put the lid back on, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20-30 minutes.

Once this is done, the butter should be dissolved, the rice should be fluffy, and everything should smell very fresh and herb-y.

Rice + saffron water = gorgeous golden rice.

Rice + saffron water = gorgeous golden rice.

To plate, mix approximately ¼ of the rice with the remaining saffron water for colour. Put the remaining ¾ of rice on a platter, top it with the saffron rice, and lovingly sprinkle your dish with your delicious deep fried shallots. Place the crispy lettuce crust alongside to complete the whole dish!

Serve with yogurt dip (more on that below).

Serve with yogurt dip (more on that below).

This recipe takes… a long time. But damn, it is good.

WTF, Why is Saffron So Expensive? 🤷

Saffron — it’s the world’s most expensive spice. Yea, it’s more pricey than vanilla. But it’s very pretty! If you don’t have saffron, you can buy some at the grocery store at an inflated price. We paid $11.50 for 0.5 grams of it! Ouch. If you plan on using saffron again in the future, we recommend buying some from Amazon — you’ll get a much cheaper price per gram and won’t feel like you have to go to the shady black market to get some.

Saffron is beautiful.

Saffron is beautiful.

Don’t Forget The Yogurt Dip!

In the intro notes for the herb and recipe recipe, there is a link to this amazing dip. This yogurt dip with raisins, cucumber, and walnuts is delicious!

We didn’t include the crushed dried rose petals or aleppo-style pepper because we didn’t have any. The rose petals really give the dip a beautiful colour — we’re sad we didn’t have any, but they’re mostly just for show anyways. A few days after eating our feast of rice and dip, we learned that ancho chili powder, cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, or hot paprika can be used as a substitute for aleppo-style pepper, so try one of those if you make this dip. (We wish we could go back in time and do this!)

Scoop some rice with your dip and your taste buds are in for a wild ride.

Our only beef with this recipe is: how big is a Persian cucumber? It was hard to know how much should go in this dip, so we just guessed and went off of our personal preference.

Our dip vs their dip. Looks aren’t everything, right?

Our dip vs their dip. Looks aren’t everything, right?

While searching the internets, we found that a lot of Mast-o-Khiar recipes use just cucumber,  yogurt, and mint, while Andy’s recipe calls for the addition of walnuts, raisins, and lemon. While there are a lot of variations out there, this dip recipe gets a 👍.


Our Mediocre Thoughts

👨‍🍳 Trevor: I enjoy learning about and cooking food from other cultures. It’s interesting to see how different groups of people use the same spices, herbs, etc to create something completely new and exciting. I have been wanting to try middle eastern cuisine recently, and figured that Andy’s Persian style rice would be a good place to start. This dish relies heavily on layering flavours and building complexity over time. And I respect the hell out of that. That being said, this dish does take quite a bit of time to make. It took us approximately 3 hours, which is a crazy amount of time for rice.

Would I make this again? Yes, under the right circumstances. If I needed to bring something for a potluck, or if I halved (or quartered) the recipe I would consider making it again. It was delicious, and paired with the yogurt sauce as well as some flatbread (we went for naan because we are lazy and didn’t have the time or willpower to make Persian flatbread on a Sunday evening) it made for a fantastic (meatless) dinner. It was a great dish, and I am looking forward to exploring Iranian cuisine more in the future.

👩‍🍳 Brittany: I haven’t delved into the world of Iranian cuisine much, but I can see myself doing it more after this post. Both of Andy’s dishes are so well thought out and the flavours were well-developed. The combination of the fresh herb rice with the subtle taste of saffron, combined with the tangy yogurt and cucumber dip was a pleasant experience. The food was so good, that I passed out as soon as Trevor left and had a nap while my fiancé cleaned up the kitchen (sorry Adam).

The rice dish is not something that I’d make for myself after work (or I wouldn’t be eating until 8pm), but I would make it for a potluck, or on a Sunday and just eat rice for lunch all throughout the week. Saffron is pricey, so if I were to make it more regularly, it’d probably be sans-saffron. (Although the subtle flavour of saffron would be missed.) The dip is something that I will be making again in the very near future — it was a major highlight for me! That, and the shallots. I’m going to be frying shallots like that more in the future to put on EVERYTHING.


Our Final Review

Taste: 4 thirsty YouTube comments out of 5

Andy is the whole meal comment

Presentation: 4 beautiful rose petals out of 5

rose petals comment

Affordability: 2 saffron threads out of 5

saffron price youtube comment

The best way to describe the taste of this dish is: fresh. There are so many fresh herbs, fresh scallions, fresh everything that you can’t help but be amazed by the flavours that are going on. Even though there’s a lot of complexity happening, nothing is too overpowering, which is very nice.

Presentation wise, this is a pretty dish. We didn’t have the rose petals like Andy did (hello florist, I’d like 4 rose petals please, yeah, no not the whole flowers, just the petals), but we still thought our dish looked beautiful. The yellow colour of the saffron rice layered with the white, along with the herbs and shallots, all on a large serving platter with the caramelized lettuce from the bottom of the pot — we were pretty impressed with how it looked!

As we discussed earlier, saffron is expensive — hence the ⅖ rating for affordability. You can of course make this recipe without the saffron, but you’ll miss out on the colour (which adds to the presentation) and the subtle floral flavour.

herb saffron rice

What Persian dish should we try next? Let us know in the comments below!