Golden Spiced Rice

Just in time for the holiday season, this recipe for Golden Spiced Rice makes a wonderful addition to any festive menu. The golden color of turmeric brings an eye-catching addition to the holiday table while the combination of savory spices will warm the hearts of all who gather. A touch of citrus and crunch of cashews bring depth and complexity that elevate this often worn out side dish and make it worth the extra time.  Feel free to make the fruit and nut mixture up to two days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.



  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 4 tablespoons avocado oil (can use olive), divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)


  • In the large wide heavy pot over medium heat, spread cashews and dry roast until just beginning to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate, let cool, then coarsely chop. Set nuts aside.
  • Place rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until grains have lengthened but are still firm, 6–7 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water. Spread rice on another rimmed baking sheet; let cool.
  • Meanwhile, using a paring knife, remove peel from orange and thinly slice lengthwise. (Save remainder of orange for another use). Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add orange zest and carrots, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 15–20 minutes; drain and set aside (discard syrup).
  • Combine cranberries and raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let soak 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. * If using saffron, place in another small bowl and add 1/4 cup hot water; set aside.
  • Heat ghee and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 8–10 minutes. Add cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and 1 tablespoon saffron mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat to low, add cranberries and raisins, and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved cashews, orange peel and carrot mixture; season with salt. Set fruit and nut mixture aside.
  • Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in the large wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add half of rice, spreading evenly; top with fruit and nut mixture, then remaining rice, spreading evenly. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5–6 holes in rice all the way through to bottom of pot (to help release steam and help rice cook evenly).
  • Drizzle remaining saffron mixture over rice. Place a clean kitchen towel over pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and secure loose edges of towel on top of lid, using a rubber band or masking tape.
  • Cook until pot begins to steam, 5–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and cook, without stirring, until rice is tender and bottom layer of rice is browned and crisp, 30–40 minutes.
  • Scoop rice into a wide serving bowl, breaking bottom crust into pieces.



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