Zarda recipe (Sweet rice recipe)

By Swasthi on August 27, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Zarda is a traditional sweet rice dessert originated from the Mughals. The name Zarda is derived from the Persian and Urdu term “Zard” meaning yellow. The dish gets its name as it is prepared using yellow color. (Source:wiki) Zarda also known as meethe chawal is usually prepared during special occasions like weddings, festivals and celebrations.


zarda

What is zarda?

Zarda is a dessert made with long grain fragrant rice, ghee, spices, yellow color, sugar, mawa & lots of dry fruits. It is usually served as an after meal dessert.

The use of good quality ingredients & the right cooking technique helps to make a flavorful and delicious Zarda.

Ingredients:

Rice: Using good quality aged basmati rice is very much essential here as it does make a lot of difference to the final dish. The rice grains in a well-made zarda do not turn mushy yet every grain is fully cooked.

Ghee is another key ingredient used to make an aromatic and delicious zarda. Using good quality ghee is important. Authentic and traditional zarda uses a generous amount of ghee which also gives it the glossy look.

Color: I have used saffron here as I do not use food colors. You may use either. But saffron also adds flavour to the dish. Some people also add different colors to make the zarda multi coloured.  

Flavoring: Ingredients like cardamoms, cloves and saffron are used for flavouring.

Mawa adds richness to the dish. If you do not have just skip it.

Preparation

1. Wash rice at least thrice and soak it in lots of water for 30 minutes. After 30 mins drain the water from the rice.

2. Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot.

3. Add food color or saffron. Add the drained rice to the boiling water.

cooking rice for zarda

4. Cook the rice to 95% done meaning it is fully cooked and not mushy. When you press down the grain in between your fingers it must get mashed well. The grains must be completely cooked and not remain raw inside otherwise they will turn hard after adding to the sugar syrup.

cooking rice in saffron water

5. Immediately drain the rice completely & spread it wide in the colander itself. Cool it down completely.

drained rice for making zarda

How to make zarda rice pulao

6. Once the rice cools, add ghee to a wide pan and heat it on a medium heat.

frying nuts in ghee

7. Fry the chopped nuts until golden and then add the raisins. When the raisins turn plump, remove to a plate and keep aside. Then add crushed cloves and cardamoms.

sauteing spices in ghee

8. Add sugar and then pour 4 tbsps water. Stir well until the sugar dissolves. You can also make this in a separate small pan.

Making sugar syrup

9. Cook this until the syrup comes to a 2 string consistency. To check this cool a bit of syrup. Then take it in between your thumb and forefinger. When you gently separate the fingers you should see 2 strings.

10. Add the cooled rice.

Adding rice for zarda

11. Mix gently to coat it well with the syrup. Level the rice on top.Layer the mawa, fried nuts and raisins over the zarda. I also poured 1 tbsp of ghee as I added a bit less to the tempering.

adding ghee over zarda

12. Cover the rice and keep it on a low flame to dum (steam) for 10 mins. Turn off and rest for another 15 mins. I mixed up the mawa and then kept it for dum. I felt the mawa released a bit more moisture due to this. So mix it later after the dum.

dum cooked zarda rice

13. Zarda will be perfectly done. Cool down a bit and serve.

perfectly cooked zarda in a kadai

Garnish with more nuts and raisins.

zarda recipe

Tips to make good zarda

Cooking rice in lots of water until 95% is the most important step. The rice has to be well cooked fully, not mushy and not raw inside. If you undercook the rice then the grains will turn hard after adding to the syrup.

Draining and cooling rice immediately is another key step. This not only firms up the grains a bit but also prevents from turning mushy when added to the sugar syrup.

Add the rice to the sugar syrup only when the sugar syrup reaches a 2 string consistency. If you add it earlier than this stage rice will get over cooked and turn mushy.

Generous amount of ghee – Zarda made during special occasions has a lot of ghee in it. Be generous and use a good amount if you are making for a special occasion.

Do not add a lot of mawa, it makes the rice moist.

I made this zarda rice for a special weekend meal along with this quick Chicken biryani, masala papad, Boondi raita, vegetable salad and Mint lassi.

You may like to check these
Sweet recipes
Rice recipes

Zarda recipe

Zarda is a rice dessert from the Mughlai cuisine. It is made with fragrant rice, sugar, saffron and other dry fruits.  
Pin Recipe Print Recipe

For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings5
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup basmati rice (or any premium rice)
  • 5 cups water for boiling rice
  • yellow food color as needed (or 3 pinches saffron or kesar)
  • 4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 4 cloves crushed
  • 4 cardamoms crushed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons mawa (khoya or khoa) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kewra water (optional)

For sugar syrup

  • ¾ cup sugar (reduce 2 tbsps for moderate sweetness)
  • 4 tablespoons water

Mix nuts & fruits (sliced)

  • 8 almonds (badam) chopped
  • 8 cashews (kaju) chopped
  • 10 pistachios chopped
  • 10 raisins

Instructions

  • Wash rice at least thrice and soak in lots of water for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, bring 5 cups water to a rolling boil in a large pot.
  • Add food color or saffron. Drain the water from the rice and add it to the boiling water.
  • Boil the rice until 95% cooked. Meaning the grains are just done, fully cooked and not mushy. If you undercook the rice here, the grains will turn hard later after adding to the sugar syrup. Press down a rice grain in between your fingers, it should get mashed well and not be hard.
  • Immediately drain the rice completely and spread it wide in the colander itself. Cool down completely.
  • When the rice cools down, add ghee to a wide pan and heat it.
  • Fry the nuts until golden and then add the raisins. When the raisins turn plump, remove to a plate. Then add crushed cloves and cardamoms & fry for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Add sugar and then 4 tbsps water. Stir well.
  • Cook this until the sugar melts and syrup comes to a 2 string consistency. To check this cool a bit of syrup and take it in between your thumb and forefinger. When you gently separate the fingers you should see 2 strings.
  • Add the cooled rice and mix gently to coat it well with the syrup. Level the rice on top. 
  • Layer the mawa and nuts over the zarda.
  • Cover the rice and keep it on a low flame to dum for 10 mins. Rest for another 15 mins. Zarda will be perfectly done. If you still see moisture at the bottom, then dum cook for longer.

Notes

After cooking the rice, drain it to a wide colander. This prevents the rice from cooking further. Rice will continue to cook when drained to a small colander as it will be still very hot. This may overcook the rice making zarda mushy and soggy.
You can also add saffron to sugar syrup instead of adding it to the boiling water.
How to double or triple the zarda recipe
  • Make sure you use a wider pan or pot for the tempering. As the moisture from sugar evaporates quickly, zarda will not turn mushy.
  • Adding more mawa in the recipe may make the dish moist.
  • If you are not using mawa, then you can use little more ghee.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Zarda recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 478 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 37mg2%
Potassium 145mg4%
Carbohydrates 68g23%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 34IU1%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 86mg9%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Zarda recipe (Sweet rice recipe)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.

Follow Swasthi’s Recipes

Recipe Rating




5 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

5 stars
I tried with multi food colors and it turned out just delicious

5 stars
Yummy!. We add sugar and little pour water first. Add rice after sugar dissolves. Will love to have your mutton qorma and nihari recipes.

I made this on the weekend with your chicken pakora. They turned out great. This is a Low fat Zarda. My mom makes with lot more ghee and sugar. Do you have a mutton korma recipe?