Zarda: Sweet Saffron Rice

And a Sweet Little Incident… Here it goes:

The other day we were going out for dinner. For once there was some peace in the car. The 2 kids were not fighting, each of them busy doing thier own things. I noticed that my 2 year old had been looking out of the window for quite sometime, when she cried out “the moon, the moon! mama the moon is broken. Someone broke the moon…” She was definitely very upset about it. A few days back she had seen an enormous orange full moon, and now all of a sudden it was just a  slice. I wish I had an as imaginative an explaination as her beautiful mind. Later on she herself figured that the cloud must have bitten a piece out of it, since the cloud is the only thing that can reach it!!

Now for the Sweet Saffron Rice… one of my friends mom had made this for a Diwali party, & all I remember of how this was done was she used orange juice and of course saffron. I looked for a Zarda recipe with orange juice, but did not find one. All the ones were everything I have written down, except for the use of orange. But since I wanted to use the Orange Juice in it,  I made my own sugar syrup with Juice. This is a delicious Warm, Fluffy, Sweet dessert very common in Pakistan. I have heard of some people using Fresh Rose Petals for this dessert, but I have not used any.

This is being sent to the Rice Mela-Celebrating Rice in Different Forms hosted by Shrivalli of Cooking for all Seasons.


  1. 1 Cup of Uncooked Basmati Rice
  2. 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala (also available in Indian Groceries)
  3. 2 Tablespoon of oil
  4. 2 Tablespoons of Ghee (You can use the store bought Ghee too)
  5. 1/2 Cup Orange Juice (freshly Squeezed or Store Bought)
  6. 1 Tablespoon of Orange zest
  7. 1/2 Cup White Sugar (adjust this to how much sweet you want it to be)
  8. 1/2 Teaspoon Saffron
  9. 2 Cloves
  10. 1″ Stick of Cinnamon
  11. 1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom Powder
  12. 1/4 Cup Raisins
  13. 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
  14. A Pinch of Orange or Yellow Food  Color
  15. Toasted almonds for Garnish (Optional)

Note: You can use walnuts, pistachios, or any dry fruits in this


Wash thoroughly & Soak the Rice in cold water for 1/2 hour.

In a pan, mix Ghee, Orange Juice, Orange zest, Sugar, Saffron, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom Powder, Raisins, Almonds & Food Color & boil till it reduces to about half the amount. Set aside.

Boil 2.5 cups of water, rice, oil and the Garam Masala.(The oil prevents the rice from sticking together). When the Rice is long, but still a little stiff enough to be broken, (about half cooked- you will see the grains long with lines in the middle). Drain off the water and spread it out to cool.

Mix & toss the cooked rice with the Orange Syrup very gently &  cook at the lowest heat for about 10 minutes or till the rice is almost cooked & the liquid is all gone. Switch off the heat and keep it covered for another 10 minutes. Do not overcook the rice. The last part of cooking should be done when the heat is switched off & it stays covered. This way the rice stays distinctly separate.

Garnish. Serve Warm as a dessert.


Adding another sweet note: Sorry for posting this so late.

Viki has presented me a  Chocoholic Award.     

 Thanks a lot Viki!!

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