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Chicken Saffron Rice ("Khao Suratan" - Rice of the Sultans)


Rice of the Sultans
Copyright Darlene A. Schmidt, About.com Corp.
This Thai chicken saffron rice recipe, called "Rice of the Sultans", is flavored with spices not usually thought of as Thai. Many centuries ago, traders from Indonesia brought exotic spices to Thailand such as saffron, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In Thailand, such culinary riches were still new and terribly expensive. Thais gave this special chicken and rice recipe its name based on the rulers of Sumatra, who were sultans and could afford such luxuries. The recipe is extremely delicious! - I like to describe it as a cross between Thai chicken & rice and a Spanish Paella. Try it - you'll absolutely love it!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


  • SERVES 2
  • 4 chicken drumsticks, OR 1/2 chicken chopped into pieces
  • 2 cups rice
  • 3 1/2 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less according to how spicy you want it)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 Tbsp. fish sauce (or more to taste)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 small sweet red and yellow bell peppers, cut into thin strips (or use sweet baby peppers)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, lightly chopped, OR a mixture of fresh coriander and basil
  • 2 spring (green) onions, sliced
  • wedges of fresh lemon or lime to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Measure out 1 cup of chicken stock. Add the turmeric and saffron, stirring with a fork to dissolve the turmeric. Place chicken in a [covered] casserole dish, and pour over this flavored stock.
  2. Cover and set in the oven to bake 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is nearly cooked. Turn the chicken pieces in the stock, ensuring all sides are permeated with the bright saffron color/flavor.
  3. Drain off the saffron-flavored stock ino a glass measuring cup (You will use this to cook the rice). Cover the casserole dish to keep chicken hot.
  4. To the stock, add the cayenne pepper, lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir well.
  5. Now add more chicken stock until you have a total of 3 1/2 cups. Pour this over the chicken in the casserole dish.
  6. Now add the rice and vegetables, stirring everything together. Cover and set in the oven to bake until rice is cooked (45 min. to 1 hour).
  7. Taste-test the rice (it should taste flavorful, spicy, and slightly tangy from the lemon juice). Add more fish sauce if not salty or flavorful enough.
  8. To serve, portion out generous amounts of rice, chicken, and vegetables onto serving plates or bowls. Finish each serving with a sprinkling of fresh coriander/basil and spring onion, plus wedges of fresh lemon or lime, if desired. ENJOY!
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