Spices and Seasons – Jeweled Saffron Rice with Mussels


IMG_9673Today’s dish will hopefully put you in the mood for love and celebration. This jeweled rice is studded with ruby red pomegranate seeds and saffron to round of the flavors and mussels to create the mood for some added romance. Yes, much like oysters, mussels are also considered to be an aphrodisiac. In this rice dish, you will be reminded of a paella in appearance, however the long grained basmati used  here is fluffier and more eye catching. All the flavors, here are delicate and harmonious and the stunning yellow color is from a generous pinch of saffron, that gives the rice a heady scent along with a vivid and colorful appearance. The key to this simple dish is to use a generous amount of saffron, that gives this dish its bright color and fragrance.

If you want to know more about spicy treats and other things to woo you valentine, you might want to check out The Spice Scribe’s, blog.  This  very Anglo lass from across the pond, is passionate about Indian food and is always good for a nice collection of seasonal links appropriate for the occasion on hand.


Now, let me tell you the best part about this recipe, it needs minimal attention and gets done in about 30-35 minutes and prepares a one-dish meal that you cannot go wrong with. If you want a vegetarian option, swap the mussels with mushrooms, not identical, but will have you business in terms of colors and lovely tastes.


What I would pair with this, is some light and lively Prosecco or sangria, to keep the colors co-ordinated. For dessert, it really depends on how much time you want to spend in the kitchen, I have shared the recipe for a carrot fudge pudding (Gajar Halwa), that is pretty and bound to enhance the mood. You could make my almond shortbread cookies

Jeweled Saffron Rice with Mussels

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

A delicate, fragrant and colorful melange of saffron rice and mussels, studded with almonds and pomegranate seeds.


  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1 large stick of cinnamon, broken
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 to 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 to 2 black cardamoms (optional)
  • 1 cup of basmati rice, soaked for 20 minutes or longer
  • 11/2 teaspoons of saffron strands
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 21/2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter
  • 11/2 pounds of mussels thoroughly washed and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3/4 cup toasted and slivered almonds


  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized heavy bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid, and add in the onion. Cook the onions low and slow until the onions soften and begin to turn crisp. Continue cooking and stirring them frequently, until the onions are a rich toffee colored fragrant mass.
  2. Remove 1/4 of the mixture and set aside for garnishing, add in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms and the black cardamoms if using and stir in the rice. Fry the rice for about 3 minutes, stiring well to prevent sticking.
  3. Add in the saffron strands, salt, cayenne pepper and about 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes. The rice should be almost cooked and fluffy at this point.
  4. Add in the clarified butter and the mussels and cover the pot. Turn the heat on low and let the mixture stay covered for at least 7-10 minutes. Remove the cover and you should have most of the mussels open at this point of time.
  5. Gently stir in the pomegranate seeds and the slivered almonds and serve.
and pair it with a dollop of mango ice cream, and we should be in business.



About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, loves meshing seasonal produce with fresh spices. Most of her recipes are inspired by her Indian heritage, and her cooking is practical, easy and well suited for a busy lifestyle on the go. As a mother with two young children, her recipes are also usually balanced and kid-friendly. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences and original recipes. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years. Rinku is the author of two cookbooks: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook that highlights culture, memories and recipes from her childhood transformed where needed for her Lohud kitchen and Spices and Seasons that marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and is also a contributor for Zester Daily.

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