Zarda Pulao is a delicious traditional North Indian yellow sweet rice recipe delicately flavoured with saffron, dry fruits, nuts and aromatic spices. Also known as kesari meethe chawal in Hindi, this sweet pulao is joyously served during festivals and weddings. Here is how to make zarda recipe step by step. A recipe that you will NEVER regret to follow!
The meaning of zarda is the Persian word Zard and it particularly means “yellow” in Urdu. Because, this sweet rice is yellow in colour, hence called Zarda pulao or sweet pulao.
The zarda rice is significantly popular dessert in Pakistan and Bangladesh also. This is an extremely easy to make dish but yes, it do require couple of critical ingredients to make the authentic zarda recipe. You will indeed find many variations to the recipe, but if you are looking out for authentic recipe, then here it is.
The most important thing is, Muslim style traditional zarda recipe is never complete without the addition of an orange zest. Orange zest gives beautiful blend of freshness, flavour and aroma combined with other ingredients making sweet rice recipe, an authentic, rich and dazzling dish.
Khowa added on the top of meetha zarda pulao, becomes cheesy and crumbly when simmered with rice giving a royal touch to every bite you take in.
What ingredients do we need to make zarda?
To make this meethe chawal, we need good quality long grain basmati rice. Then, comes the whole spice we will be needing for the recipe. They are green cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and cinnamon sticks.
The most important ingredients for the preparation of zarda pulao is good quality saffron and orange zest.
Then we need, sugar, ghee, khoya, but if you do not get the khoya in your region, then you an either make it at home using milk powder or use crumbled fresh malai paneer.
Finally, the dry fruits that goes in are chironji (charoli nuts), raisins, cashew nuts and dried coconut slices.
Top tips to make best zarda recipe at home
- Always use aged & best quality long grain basmati rice to make meethe chawal recipe. Also, soak the rice for good 1- 2 hours to get the best results.
- Do not skip orange zest as it a important ingredient to make authentic zarda recipe
- Always use good quality unadulterated saffron strands to make sweet rice.
- To get perfect yellow colour in zarda pulao, it’s really important to soak saffron in warm water for few hours at least. Therefore, the soaked saffron was resting in the refrigerator overnight.
- You may also choose to add yellow or orange and even food colour if you wish too
- Khoya makes an integral part of this recipe, but if in case it not available then you can use fresh malai paneer instead. However, khoya or mawa gives richer and taste and authenticity to the dish.
Do try this traditional meethey chawal this celebration season to serve your family, friends and guests. Eid-ul-adha is around the corner, do not forget to make some delicious along with this sweet pulao
How to make zarda recipe - step by step
- To start with, first, clean wash and soak rice in enough water for atleast one hour (photo 1)
- Also, soak the saffron in ¼ of water for atleast 2-3 hours (photo 2)
- Then, in a heavy bottom pan, add enough water, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, green cardamom and cloves. Bring it to a boil (photo 3)
- Once the water starts boiling, add strained rice (photo 4)
- Cook the rice until 90% done. (photo 5)
- Then, carefully strain the cooked rice and set it aside. Do not discard the whole spices (photo 6)
- To make sweet rice, in another heavy bottom pan, heat ghee or butter (photo 7)
- Then, add sliced coconut, cashews, charoli nuts and raisins, fry for few minutes until they are golden. Do not burn them (photo 8)
- After that, add sugar and mix (photo 9)
- Then add saffron water and bring it to a boil, cook until sugar melts. Now, add lemon juice, orange zest allow it to boil for another minute (photo 10)
- Then, add rice and gently mix and make sure that all the rice coats well with sugar-saffron mixture, cook for a minute (photo 11 and 12)
- Finally, sprinkle crumbled khoya all over the rice (photo 13)
- After that, cover the pan with tight lid and simmer (Dum) on very low flame for 15 minutes (photo 14)
- This is how the meethe chawal looks after 15 minutes. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Then, gently fluff up the rice with fork and mix everything (photo 15)
- Delicious rich meetha zarda pulao is ready to serve (photo 16)
Some of the best rice recipes you may want to try:
Best Zarda Pulao Recipe
to cook rice for zarda recipe:
- 2 Cups Long Grain Basmati Rice
- 1 Bay leaf
- 4-5 Green Cardamom
- 5-6 Cloves
- 2 inch Cinnamon Stick
- Water (to boil the rice)
- pinch Yellow Food Color (optional - I have not used it)
remaining ingredients for zarda rice pulao:
- 1 ½ cups Sugar
- A generous pinch of saffron soaked in ¼cup of water atleast for 2-3 hours to develop best colour
- 1 ½ tablespoons Charoli nuts (chironji) (Charoli nuts (chiraunji))
- ¼ cup Cashew nuts (broken)
- 4 tablespoons Raisins
- 3 tablespoons Dried Coconut (sliced or chopped)
- 4-5 tablespoons Ghee (or unsalted butter)
- 100 grams khowa or Mawa or Kova ( grated or crumbled cottage cheese/malai paneer)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Orange Zest ( a must, cannot be skipped)
- Juice of half lemon
To cook rice for zarda
- To start with, first, clean wash and soak rice in enough water for atleast one hour.
- Also, soak the saffron in ¼ cup of water for at least 2-3 hours.
- Then, in a heavy bottom pan, add enough water, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, green cardamom and cloves. Bring it to a boil.
- Once the water starts boiling, add strained rice.
- Cook the rice until 90 percent done.
- Then, carefully strain the cooked rice and set it aside. Do not discard the whole spices.
How to make Zarda Recipe
- In another heavy bottom pan, heat ghee or butter.
- Then, add sliced coconut, cashews, charoli nuts and raisins, fry for few minutes until they are golden. Do not burn them.
- After that, add sugar and mix.
- Then add saffron water and bring it to a boil. Cook until sugar melts.
- Now, add lemon juice, orange zest allow it to boil for another minute.
- Then, add rice and gently mix and make sure that all the rice coats well with sugar-saffron mixture, cook for a minute.
- Finally, sprinkle crumbled khoya all over the rice.
- After that, cover the pan with tight lid and simmer (Dum) on very low flame for 15 minutes.
- Allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Then, gently fluff up the rice with fork and mix everything.
- Delicious rich sweet rice is ready to serve.