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A close-up shot of Zarda pulao (sweet rice) served on a blue plate
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5 from 6 votes


Zarda pulao - an authentic fragrant traditional yellow sweet rice or meethe chawal made using basmati rice, saffron, orange zest, dry fruits and nuts. Served joyously during weddings and festivals like Eid, Diwali or Holi.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Soaking Time1 hr
Total Time40 mins
Course: Desserts, Sweets
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 398kcal
Author: Farrukh Aziz


to cook rice for zarda recipe:

  • 2 Cups long grain basmati rice long grain basmati rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 green cardamom
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • enough water to cook rice
  • pinch of yellow colour i have not used it

remaining ingredients for zarda rice pulao:

  • 1 ½ cup Sugar
  • A generous pinch of saffron soaked in ¼ cup of water atleast for 2-3 hours to develop best colour
  • 1 ½ tbsp Charoli nuts (chironji) Charoli nuts (chiraunji)
  • ¼ cup Cashew nuts broken
  • 4 tbsp Raisins
  • 3 tbsp Dried Coconut sliced or chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp Ghee or unsalted butter
  • 100 g khowa or mawa or Kova ( grated) or crumbled cottage cheese/malai paneer
  • 1 ½ tsp 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 of water for atleast 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% 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.
  • 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.
  • Delicious rich sweet rice is ready to serve.


Calories: 398kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 42mg | Potassium: 263mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 0.9mg