Recent research has indicated that the spice saffron may help protect the vision cells from damage in blinding eye diseases such as AMD and retinitis pigmentosa. Saffron is the yellow-orange stigmas hand-plucked from small purple crocuses – it is pungent and aromatic and used to flavor and tint food. It is also the world’s most expensive spice. Fortunately, a little saffron goes a long way. The recipe below is a dressed-up version of an Armenian dish that typically accompanies roast poultry or ham. The apricots provide beta-carotene, an antioxidant important to eye health.


  • 3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp boiling-hot water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups low salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (about 3 oz)
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Soften saffron in hot water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine butter and olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, allowing the butter to melt. 
  3. Add the chopped onion, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains, about 2 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, saffron mixture, dried apricots, and currants. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. 
  5. Meanwhile, toast the nuts by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts out evenly on a baking sheet and toast for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  6. Cook rice until tender and the liquid is absorbed about 15 to 18 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.
  7. Add toasted almonds and pistachios and season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Notes

Vegetarian version: use all olive oil and substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth.  Use brown rice for an even healthier version (however, note cooking time will be increased). 

Substitute dried cranberries or raisins for the currants.  Use all almonds or all pistachios or substitute toasted pine nuts for some of the nuts.


Recipe source, Discovery Eye Foundation

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