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Zarda Pullao - Sweet Saffron Rice

Serves 4

  • 1/2 tsp safrron, roasted and crumbled
  • 1 TBSP warm milk or water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 4 TBSP ghee or butter
  • 2 TBSP shelled pistachios
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • A 1-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5-7 TBSP sugar, to taste
  • 1 TBSP golden raisins

    1. Crumble the saffron into the warm milk or water and let sit for 2 hours

    2. Wash the rice in several changes of water until it runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl with 4 cups of water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

    3. Preheat the oven to 350F

    4. Heat the ghee or butter in a wide ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. When hot, add the pistachios and let fry for about 5 seconds, or until the pistacios have a faint brownish tint. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    5. Put the cardamom and cinnamon stick into the same butter, and stir for about half a minute. Add the drained rice, and fry, stirring for 3 more minutes. Turn the heat down if the rice starts to catch. Add 1-1/3 cups water and the salt, with the heat on medium. Gently stir and cook until the all the water is absorbed. Add the saffron liquid, the raisins and the sugar and stir to mix.

    6. Cover tightly and place in the oven for 25 minutes. To serve, remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, and sprinkle the top with the pistachios.