saffron rice pudding

saffron rice pudding

deeply aromatic, sweet and gold Persian rice pudding (shole zard)

prep: 10'
cook: 30'

Iranians love to celebrate joyous events by sharing sweet treats with the community. I made this for a colleague of mine, who made a variant of it using mascarpone cheese. The next day, he told me that his guests wiped their bowls clean and shamelessly licked their fingers afterwards.


  • 200g (1 cup) basmati rice
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) saffron infusion
  • 125ml (½ cup) rosewater
  • 50g (3.5oz) butter
  • 400g (2 cups) caster sugar
  • a sprinkling of ground cinnamon
  • a handful of chopped or slivered pistachio nuts


  • the best way to get the most flavour and colour out of the saffron is to steep it
  • to do this, grind 2 teaspoons of saffron pistils to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar
  • add 30ml (2 tbsp) of boiling hot water
  • set aside to soak for 5 to 10 minutes
  • in a large pot, soak the rice with boiling water
  • set aside for 10 minutes
  • drain and refill with 1 ½ litres (6 cups) of boiling water
  • place on a medium heat
  • let the rice cook through for 15 to 20 minutes
  • using an immersion blender, blend the rice completely so the rice grains are broken up into a thick paste
  • add the sugar, butter, rose water and saffron infusion
  • boil for another 10 minutes so that all the flavours are mixed with the rice
  • turn off the heat
  • using a ladle, pour the dessert into small serving bowls
  • put them in the fridge to cool for at least an hour
  • when set, scatter some pistachio nuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon
  • serve with Persian-style black tea

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