Sholeh Zard is a traditional Persian rice pudding made with basmati rice, sugar, saffron and rosewater. It is garnished with cinnamon, pistachios and almonds.
I never thought much about having a favorite color until I had kids. All of a sudden there were favorites everywhere. Favorite foods. Favorite movies. Favorite books. Favorite colors. The first time one of my kids asked me my favorite color, I drew a blank.
I loved my soft grey t-shirts, but how boring is it to say you love the color grey? My children never changed their minds about their favorite colors. The Professor loves green. Middle Child adores blue. My Princess is all about pink.
After a few years of self-realization and changing my mind, I finally settled on yellow. Yellow is a sunny day. Yellow is a sunflower. Yellow is a bowl full of lemons. Yellow is summer time. And of course, yellow is saffron!
Although saffron threads are more orangish-red, and high quality saffron steeped in hot water produces the same deep orange color, add it to rice and you get this gorgeous, happy always-makes-me-smile-big yellow.
Sholeh Zard is a Persian dessert made with white basmati rice, saffron, rosewater and sugar. It is a thick rice pudding that has the power to turn a room full of Persian adults into little kids, happily licking their spoons and bowls clean.
I had never made rice pudding before this, so I didn’t realize how long the cooking process takes. But the smells that arose from my kitchen while cooking this dish was incredible. Everyone came out from all parts of my house to find the source of this heavenly smell.
The combination of basmati rice, saffron, rose water and almonds is incredible — and I am not a huge pudding fan. This quintessential dish encompasses everything I love about Persian food. All of your senses are engaged.
And like many Persian dishes, it’s all about the presentation! My mother-in-law is a talented artist and she created this beautiful “painting” for this dish of sholeh zard made with the cinnamon, dried rose petals, almonds and pistachios.
It was at a picnic, specifically a Sizdah Bedar celebrating the Persian New Year (Nowruz) where I saw one Persian family serve individual sholeh zard servings in small mason jars. That’s where I found my inspiration for my pretty little jars of golden yellow sweetness.
Yellow, magenta and pistachio green – some of my favorite colors! Ooops! There I go again, I just can’t pick one favorite color!
- 1 1/2 cup basmati rice, uncooked
- 8 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp crushed saffron
- 2 TBS hot water
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 TBS almond slivers
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup rose water
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 TBS pistachios, (optional)
- In a medium-sized bowl cover rice with water and gently wash the rice by stirring the rice in the water with your hand. This helps wash some of the starch and grit out. Pour out the water and repeat two more times.
- Drain washed rice and place in a 5-quart non-stick pot with 8 cups water and salt.
- Bring it to a boil, skimming the white foam from the surface as it forms.
- Cover and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes or until rice is completely soft.
- Stir in sugar and cook for 20 more minutes, stirring constantly.
- While rice is cooking, combine saffron and 2 TBS hot water in a small bowl and reserve.
- After rice has cooked for 20 mins, add saffron liquid, butter, 2 TBS almond slicers, cardamom, and rose water.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture has thickened to a pudding.
- Pour saffron pudding into a shallow serving dish or spoon into individual serving bowls.
- Garnish with 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 TBS almond slivers, and 2 TBS pistachios
- Chill in refrigerator until set, about 2 hours. Serve cold.
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Serving Size:1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 243 Total Fat: 4.2g Saturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 8mg Sodium: 62mg Carbohydrates: 52.1g Fiber: 0.6g Sugar: 37.7g Protein: 1.8g