Shahi Zarda Pulao or Meethe Chawal is a sweet rice preparation, deliciously infused with cardamom and saffron. A family favorite, this sweet rice recipe is a great dessert and is quite easy to make as well. Here is how to make this recipe in a traditional North Indian style.
Indian is a country with a vast number of cuisines, each and every one unique in terms of taste and style of cooking.
But if we talk about the ingredients, rice is one of them which is made in almost all the Indian households regardless of what cuisine it is.
Yes, the style of cooking and preparation is different but the star ingredient rice is loved by all.
For our everyday cooking, we usually like eating savory, unique rice-based dishes such as Spinach Rice, Turmeric Rice, Hyderabadi Bagara Rice, Paneer Pulao, Lemon Rice, Matar Pulao, Gobi Pulao, Tomato Rice, Achari Chana Pulao and many more, but today I have a sweet rice recipe for you.
Yes, this North Indian Shahi Zarda Pulao is rich, creamy and is served during festivals, weddings, or other special occasions.
Laden with ghee and dry fruits and full of flavors from saffron and rose water, this Sweet Rice or Zarda should be definitely on your festive menu as a dessert.
This delicious cardamom and saffron flavored sweet rice provide a wonderful end to any meal.
It is also easy to cook and loved by both children and adults alike.
Shadi Wala Zarda is a very popular dish in Muslim style weddings and they make it colorful by coloring the rice in different colors.
What is Zarda Pulao?
It is a sweet rice preparation where rice is cooked with sugar, saffron, and dry fruits.
It is made especially for festivals and weddings and is served as dessert.
The word came from the Persian work Zard, which means yellow.
Because this dish is yellow in color, it was called Zarda Pulao.
And because it is made using all the rich and expensive ingredients, Shahi word is added to it.
Pro Tips by Neha
The rice doesn’t cook once the sugar is added to it. So make sure the rice is cooked properly before adding sugar to it.
But also make sure to not overcook the rice. It will result in a mushy Zarda Pulao.
Muslim style Zarda has some khoya added to it too. It makes it even richer. You can try making this variation by adding ½ cup crumbled khoya.
Add it just after mixing the rice with the milk mixture in the pan. Just sprinkle it on top of the rice and then cover the pan.
Some people also add green and red food color to their sweet pulao. However, I like yellow and stick to using saffron and yellow food color only.
You can also skip adding the yellow food color to Zarda and only stick to Saffron. In this case, soak the saffron overnight in milk to get the bright yellow color.
I have read that some people also add orange zest to their sweet pulao. You can try it too. Add 1 tsp orange zest along with the milk.
The base of zarda is rice. Use long-grain aged basmati rice to make it.
Since this meethe chawal is made for a special occasion, make sure to use the best variety for the best result.
To give this pulao a rich yellow color, a pinch of yellow food color is added to it.
You can skip adding it if you wish to.
Adding too much saffron will make the rice bitter, so don’t use it in excess.
You will need some milk, sugar, and rose water to soak the saffron and food color.
Ghee is needed to give a tempering to the rice. Don’t use any other oil in this recipe.
You will also need some whole spices like cardamom, black cardamom and cloves and dry fruits like almonds, cashew nuts, chironji, etc.
Chironji is traditionally added in zarda so try to not skip it but there are no rules about it.
If you wish, you can add a tsp of orange zest to the pulao. Some people add it and some don’t. There is no rule about it too.
We don’t top the zarda with khoya, but it gives an even more rich taste to it.
If using, top the rice once you add it in the pan with crumbled khoya and then put the lid of the pan.
Zarda Pulao is usually served as a dessert! So, you can enjoy it after your festive meals or weekend meals.
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Step by Step Recipe
Gently wash the rice and soak in water for 1 hour. Strain and keep aside.
Mix milk, yellow food color, saffron, rose water and sugar in a bowl.
Heat 4-5 cups water in a pan.
When it comes to a boil, add the soaked rice.
Cook till the rice is done. Strain in a sieve and mix a tsp of ghee in the rice and keep aside.
Heat the remaining ghee in a pan.
Add almonds, cashew nuts, chironji and raisins and fry till golden brown. Add cardamom, black cardamom and cloves and fry for a few seconds.
Now add the milk mixture in the pan and bring it to a boil.
Simmer the heat and add the rice and mix gently. If you are using khoya, you can crumble it over rice at this stage. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes.
Zarda Pulao Recipe
- 1 cup Basmati Rice
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 pinch Saffron
- 1 pinch Yellow food color
- 4-5 Green cardamom (Crushed)
- 2 Black cardamom (Crushed)
- 8-10 Cloves Cloves
- 1 cup Milk
- ½ tsp Rose water
- 2 tbsp Ghee
- 2 tbsp Chironji
- 10-12 Almonds (Chopped)
- 10-12 Cashew nuts (Chopped)
- 2 tbsp Raisins
- Gently wash the rice and soak in water for 1 hour.
- Strain and keep aside.
- Mix milk, yellow food color, saffron, rose water and sugar in a bowl
- Heat 4-5 cups water in a pan.
- When it comes to a boil, add the soaked rice.
- Cook till the rice is done.
- Strain in a sieve and mix a tsp of ghee in the rice and keep aside.
- Heat the remaining ghee in a pan.
- Add almonds, cashew nuts, chironji and raisins and fry till golden brown.
- Add cardamom, black cardamom and cloves and fry for a few seconds.
- Now add the milk mixture in the pan and bring it to a boil.
- Simmer the heat and add the rice and mix gently.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot.