Sholeh zard (Persian Sweet Rice Pudding with Saffron and Rose Water)

Allow me to introduce you to the most popular Persian desert: Sholeh Zard! It is an exotic sweet rice pudding with a vibrant yellow color from saffron (hence 'zard' which means yellow) and subtle aromas of rosewater and a dash of cinnamon. This aromatic, flavorful dessert can be prepared hours in advance prior to serving. Delicious and easy to make, this traditional dessert is often a staple at most Persian gatherings for dessert.


Saffron is difficult to cultivate and therefore expensive; regardless, it is the finishing touch which accents most Persian dishes. It takes 150,000 flowers just to produce one kilogram. A planted bulb takes two to three years before it is ready to produce flowers. Even after a couple of years of producing flowers, the bulb has to be dug up, cleaned and replanted.
Saffron has been cultivate and valued in the Middle East for at least four thousand years as an aromatic flavoring, perfume, dye, medicine, and even as an aphrodisiac. This valuable spice at times has been worth its own weight in gold. Many countries around the globe incorporate saffron into their cuisine; for example, many European countries such as the Spanish with Paella and the French for their Bouillabaisse. However, Persian cuisine uses this exotic spice in almost every dish such as Tahcheen, Classic Persian rice, Lubia Polo, Khoreshte Gheymeh, and so many more!
Hope you enjoy this traditional Persian dessert which uses saffron as its main flavoring along with rosewater.


Ingredients:
1 cup basmati rice
9 cups water
1-2 cups sugar (adjust sweetness to preference)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp saffron (ground) and dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup melted butter; unsalted (optional)
1-2 teaspoon rosewater (to taste)
1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)
cinnamon, slivered pistachios and almonds, and dried rose pedals for decoration
pinch of salt

1. In a large bowl, wash and rinse multiple times rice in cold water until the water is transparent.

2. In a large pot, bring to boil 9 cups of water and rice with a pinch of salt. Over low heat cook rice, occasionally stirring to prevent it from settling to the bottom of the pot. Usually it takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes for the rice to fall apart resembling porridge. When rice is completely cooked, add sugar, rosewater, cardamom (optional), butter (optional), saffron and slivered almonds. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until consistency resembles porridge (if too thick, add a little more hot water; if consistency is runny, cook until water evaporates).

3. Place rice mixture in one large lasagna dish or individual decorative dishes to serve. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours.


4. Decorate with cinnamon, almonds, rose pedals and pistachios prior to serving.

Enjoy!
Marjan

Comments

  1. Don't I love this dessert!!! Best rice pudding I've ever tasted hands down, Marjan! Thanks for the recipe.

    ReplyDelete

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