Persian Saffron Rice Pudding – Shole Zard

Shole Zard (Persian: Yellow pudding) or Persian Saffron Rice pudding is a wonderful snack or dessert made with rice, and the holy trinity of Persian flavors: the aromatic rosewater, cardamom and last but not the least Saffron. Even thinking about it makes me smile! 😊

The recipe has been around for several hundred years. This dish used to be served only on special occasions like the Persian New Year (Norooz) but nowadays it is served more often than that
This is a thick and creamy pudding even though it does not contain milk or cream. It becomes creamy because the rice is cooked until very soft and starchy. A little butter that is added at the end gives it even more creamy texture. Omit the butter for a vegan version.
I serve this dish usually during Christmas, Persian New Year (Norooz) and Easter.

Ingredients for 4 servings

1 dl basmati rice (100 grams) or (3,52 oz)
8 dl of water (3,38 cups)
4 dl  or (14,10 oz) sugar (take a little at a time, taste until it is to your satisfaction)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ dl or 1/4 of a cup Silvered almond
½ teaspoon Saffron dissolved in two tablespoons of hot water – take a little less if you want
the pudding to be light yellow. 

½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons Rosen-water (Persian)

Garnish
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of slivered almond
2 teaspoons of slivered pistachio
Decorate with cinnamon, almond and pistachio nuts.

Method:

  1. Wash the rice and change the water at least 7 times. Strain and set aside.
  2. Bring the water to boil, pour in the rice. Skim off and simmer for about 35 minutes – until the rice is really soft.
  3. Pour over 2 dl of hot water if necessary and mix in the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Bring it to a boil and let simmer on low heat for another 25 minutes, stirring from time to time, not too much, just to make sure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
  5. Add ½ portion of slivered almond, butter, saffron, cardamom, and rose water.
  6. Mix well, put on the lid and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and let simmer for another 10 – 20 minutes without covering until the mixture thickens. The texture should be a little syrupy – not too loose or hard. It will thicken even more when cold. 

Put the pudding into small beautiful bowls or a large one (if you have many guests). Let imagination flow when decorating. 

Enjoy!

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