Rizza Shaootha (Yellow Rice)

Yellow rice on a white plate, with toasted almonds, cooked meat, cranberries, and almonds

Growing up, one of our staple dinners was chicken and yellow rice. For my brother and I, it was one of the best meals. As children, we were incredibly picky eaters. But boy, did we love chicken. We loved eating the crispy skin. We loved gnawing on drumsticks. We loved dipping chicken pieces in the chicken drippings that we called “chicken juice.”

Today, yellow rice is still a staple in our home. In fact, yellow rice is a staple in most Chaldean homes. It’s eaten weekly. For holidays. For birthdays. For general gatherings. When you have people coming over dinner. When you don’t know what else to eat. It’s eaten with chicken. with beef. with curry. with nuts. with dried fruits. with kabob. Yellow rice is incredibly versatile. And delicious. Obviously.

I cooked this batch of yellow rice over the weekend, while I was at home with my parents and brother. I can make yellow rice just fine, but my brother is a yellow rice pro. He loves it, and makes it far more often than I do. The beef you see in the picture is called keema. Sometime soon, I will include a recipe for the spiced beef.

Above, you see the yellow rice that I carefully plated. Below, you will see my brother’s plate. According to him, this is how “real people eat.” Piles of rice. Piles of meat. Dig in.

Less nicely organized dish of chicken, beef, and yellow rice

Note: 1) For basmati rice, I usually follow a 1 to 1 ratio. Since I like my rice more tender I usually add a bit more water – less than a 1/4 cup. 2) You can serve yellow rice with whatever you want. With meat. Without meat. With nuts. With dried fruit. Have fun with it! 3) You can also make yellow rice using turmeric, but it will give the rice a different flavor.

Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Servings: 


2 cups basmati rice

2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups of water (plus a little more) or chicken stock

1/4 tsp Saffron or yellow dye

1 tsp rosewater


Silvered almonds (optional)

Dried golden raisins or cranberries (optional)


Wash the rice.

Bring your water or chicken stock to a boil. If you are using water, add the bouillon cubes. Add the saffron, turmeric, or yellow dye.

Cover the bottom of medium stock pot with a thin layer of oil. Heat the oil for a minute or two on medium to high heat. Add the washed rice to the pot and stir. Let the rice cook for a few minutes.

Add the hot stock to the rice and cover the pot with a lid.

Cook the rice on medium to high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the water has cooked away. (Don’t open the lid more than one or two times while the rice is cooking. To determine if the rice is done cooking, try to listen for boiling water. If you can hear water boiling, it’s not done cooking). Reduce the heat to medium low for about 5 to 10 minutes.

If you are adding slivered almonds, it’s best to toast them on the stove before serving. In a small saucepan, place about 1/2 cup of slivered almonds with about 1 tablespoon of oil. On low to medium heat, cook the almonds until they turn golden brown.

Closeup of Yellow rice on a white plate, with toasted almonds, cooked meat, cranberries, and almonds


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