The December challenge for the Middle Easter & North African Cooking Club (MENA) comes to us from this month’s host who is Maryam Culinary Wonders. This month the cooking focuses on delicious recipes from Iraq. It continues to be such a delicious pleasure to discover different recipes from around the Middle East and North Africa through the participants. This month I present to you a fragrant rice modestly named: Yellow Rice.

When I first saw the recipes suggested I had a hard time deciding what to make. In the end I ended up cheating because the Flu paid me a visit in all its glory. I can’t say that cooking has been high on my priority of things to do for the past five days. I picked one part of one of the recipes as I already had the ingredients at home and I was very intrigued by this rice and its purpose. Not to mention that the method of preparation for this rice is very different than the way us Iranians make it.

Maryam provided us a link to this month’s recipes by Nawal Nasrallah. I found out that in Iraq, Yellow Rice is typically served with fish so that the bones are easily distinguished against the yellow color of the rice. I don’t know about you, but I found that piece of information fascinating and brilliant!! I made one small change to the original recipe as it is perfectly fragrant and moist on its own!


1 tbsp canola oil
2 cups rice
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 generous pinch of saffron
3 1/2 cups hot water
1 stick cinnamon
5 cardamom pods

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These are the key flavor players in this rice! I love love love every single one of them! They make everything smell and taste amazing!

No, first things first! Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil.

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Lightly crush the cardamoms.

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Pulverize saffron with a pinch of salt or sugar.

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Take 2 tablespoons of the boiling  water and pour it into the mortal and pestle where the saffron was pulverized. Allow to brew while doing the next step.

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Place canola oil in a non-stick pot and allow to warm. Add turmeric and give it a stir and wait until its aroma rises, about one minute.

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Add rinsed and drained rice, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and brewed saffron.  Season with salt.

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Mix thoroughly then turn the heat on high.

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Add hot water and allow for the water to come to a hard boil.

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Cook uncovered until most of the water has been absorbed.

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Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes.

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Throughout the cooking time gently turn the rice 3 times so that it becomes fluffy.

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And that’s pretty much it! This rice pairs well with my Pan Fried Fish, or is fantastic with Mahi Sefeed.