Zarda Pulao or Meethay Chawal is a traditional yellow-coloured sweet rice dish delicately flavoured with aromatic spices, and loaded with dry fruits and nuts. Zarda is widely popular across Pakistan and North India and also in Bangladesh.
This specialty that has its origin in the Mughal era is typically served as a dessert or as highlight of the main meal at weddings, celebrations, and other festivals. It is commonly an essential part of Eid celebrations.
What goes in Zarda?
- Basmati rice (Super Kernel), pure clearified butter (desi ghee), and sugar are the basic ingredients of any zarda recipe.
- Whole spices like green cardamom, cloves and saffron impart enticing aromas.
- Dry fruits and nuts like raisins, almond, pistachios, pine nuts and/or walnuts add extra crunch and also give a rich flavour.
- Garnishes like Khoya (Mawa) add a rich creaminess to the dessert, rose petals and edible silver leaves provide a visual appeal.
What points to keep in mind?
- Make sure you use aged BASMATI rice. And that too the best quality available!
- If youre using Sella rice considering its the easiest grain to handle, you need to figure out from which type of Basmati the Sella has been made. Remember, Sella is just a process of parboiling and can be done on any rice grain so that doesnt guarantee your Zarda to come out perfectly cooked RATHER the TYPE of rice youre using. Super Kernel Basmati (Sella or regular) is what you need!
- The type of sugar youre using matters! Is it from sugar cane or beets or any other source? The sweetness defines how long you should boil your rice before adding sugar to it. Only use fine granulated sugar if you are following this method!
This quick and super easy zarda recipe uses an easy method that results in a scrumptious, flavour-packed dish with very basic ingredients from your kitchen.
Looking For More Festive Recipes ? Try These:
Zarda - Easiest Recipe Ever
- 450 g basmati rice
- 1 tsp yellow food color
- 1/4 star anis
- 2 cloves
- 2 Tbsp butter ghee
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 2 green cardamoms
- pinch saffron optional
- 250 g fine granulated sugar
- raisins handful
- 3 drops kewra essence
- 2 drops rose water
- 1/4 cup slivered or halved almonds peeled
- 1/4 cup pistachios or cashews
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pine nuts
- coconut strips as per taste
- 2 Tbsp butter ghee
- 1/2 cup khoya / Mawa optional
- dried rose petals / buds optional
- edible silver leaves optional
- Melt butter ghee in a frying pan. Toast the nuts until aromatic. Set aside.
- Wash basmati rice with cold water. Change water 3-4 times until water is almost clear. Allow to soak for 30 min. Discard water.
- Boil 2 Ltr. water in a big wide cooking vessel.
- Add yellow food coloring, cloves and star anis.
- Add the soaked rice. Boil until 92 % done. DO NOT overcook!
- Drain carefully using a fine colander.
- In the cooking pot, take butter ghee.
- Add cardamoms and saffron, spread 1/3 of rice using a small plate or big spatula.
- Sprinkle 1/3 of the fine granulated sugar and some raisins.
- Add another layer of rice and sprinkle more sugar.
- Repeat one more time until all rice and sugar is used.
- Drizzle kewra essence and rose water on top.
- Add the fried nuts.
- Cover tightly with the lid.
- Allow to cook on low medium heat for 5 min.
- Reduce the heat to lowest and allow to sit for another 10 min.
- Toss gently using a saucer or big spatula.
- Garnish with khoya, rose petals and silver leaves.
- Make sure you use fine granulated sugar if following this recipe.
- The choice of nuts is entirely up to you. Use whatever you like!
- Use the best quality Basmati rice. If using Sella rice, make sure its from super kernel Basmati.
- Always use a big cooking pot (wide not high) for making basmati. That allows rice to swim in water and it doesnt break from own weight.
- Do not stir! That helps each rice grain hold its shape.
- When reheating, sprinkle some cold milk and microwave or reheat in oven.