Iraqi Red Rice

Iraqi Red Rice

“What color rice would you like for dinner?” a question frequented by our mom. Options were white, brown, red, and yellow. Besides brown rice, our rice colors are not based on the type of grain, but the broth we used. Always using basmati, of course.

The Iraqi style of cooking rice is to fully immerse the rice in the flavored broth. In red rice, we use a mix of water, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Then, we cook the rice in the mixture, so each scoop is a mouthful of savory tomato goodness. Contrary to Persian rice, the Iraqi saffron (yellow) rice is made similarly to red rice. The entire pot of rice turns yellow compared Persian where the saffron flavored rice mainly resides on the top of the rice.

Our Nana Badriya would make her own version of red rice by adding some eggplant and other vegetables to the pot. We are sticking to the basic recipe now but can’t wait to share our Nana’s version of red rice soon!

Iraqi Red Rice

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course dinner
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Rice


  • 1 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt


  • Wash rice by placing in a strainer and rinsing for 15 seconds
  • In a separate bowl, mix tomato sauce, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of water
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp of olive oil at the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot. Place washed rice in the pot and add tomato sauce mix, chicken broth, water, salt, and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir all ingredients together
  • Cook rice on medium/high heat. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Leave pot covered for 30 minutes and stir. Cover pot again and leave on low heat until most liquid has evaporated (about 10-15 more minutes). Rice is ready to serve

2 thoughts on “Iraqi Red Rice”

  • The nana version of rice you state is also called maklobi مقبولي or مقلوبة which is red rice with vegetable and meat or just vegetable. The word flipped or upside down

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