Sweet Rice with Saffron and Nuts ( Zardah Pulao)

March 4, 2020The Pepper Cook

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4 people

Calories: 9779

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The word “zarda” is Persian for yellow, and this yellow rice gets its colour both from saffron as well as food colouring. Fragrant with the aroma of saffron, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom carried through by the buttery ghee, and rich with almonds and pistachios, this is an easy traditional favourite! One of the simplest Indian sweets to experiment with.


  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1” cinnamon stick Click here to buy
  • 2-3 cloves
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoon milk
  • a few strands of saffron Click here to buy
  • yellow food colouring (optional) Click here to buy
  • 10-12 almonds, soaked, peeled and sliced
  • 10-12 pistachios, sliced
  • 4 tablespoon ghee


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  1. Wash rice and soak for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Add saffron strands to milk and keep aside.
  3. In a saucepan on high heat, place drained rice and add 2 cups water to the pan. Bring it to boil, lower heat to simmer, and cover and cook for about 8 – 10 minutes on low heat, until the rice is half cooked.
  4. Drain rice and keep aside.
  5. Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin, black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon stick, and cloves in ghee and sauté for a minute.
  6. Add sugar to ghee and spices, and add saffron milk. Bring to a boil until you get a thick syrup, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add rice to sugar syrup and combine well, gently stirring with a with the handle of the spoon so that the rice is not broken.
  8. Add 2-3 drops of food colouring. You needn’t mix the rice after adding colour so that you have a beautiful uneven colour on serving.
  9. Cover the rice and cook for about 10 minutes on low heat.
  10. You can further lower the heat by putting iron plate under the pan so that the sugar doesn’t burn off the bottom before the rice is done.
  11. When water dries, put off the heat. To serve garnish with nuts.


Critical Ingredients:  Cardamom and cloves provide essential flavor and I love my cumin.  However, if you don’t have black cardamom or cinnamon you can leave them out.  If you don’t use saffron, do use the food colouring so you get the distinctive yellow colour of this sweet rice dish.




Print Recipe

  • Prep time: 35 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Serves: 4 people
  • Calories 9779


Saturated Fat146g

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