Zarda Pulao is a delicious sweet pilaff favoured with saffron, dry fruit nuts and aromatic spices. Zarda pulao is traditional sweet dish from north India which are served during festivals and weddings. Zarda Pulao is very popular dessert in Pakistan and Bangladesh also. Zarda actually mean “Yellow” in Urdu and This sweet pulao is yellow in colour, hence its called Zarda pulao. Generally, to get the yellow colour, food colour is added, but here I have tried to avoid the food colour, as I wanted the colour to be natural and not the artificial one, so i preferred to use saffron water. To get perfect yellow colour, it’s really important to soak saffron in warm water for few hours at least, I kept it over night in the fridge, to get the best natural yellow colour. But, if you prefer you may add, yellow to the water while boiling rice.
Second most Important thing is, traditional authentic Zarda pulao is never complete without the addition of an orange zest. Orange zest gives beautiful blend of freshness, flavour and aroma combined with other ingredients making Zarda Pulao an authentic, rich and dazzling dish. Khowa added on the top, becomes cheesy and crumbly when simmered with rice giving a royal touch to every bite you take in. Do try this authentic traditional Zarda Pulao recipe this celebration season to serve your family, friends and guests. Let’s go through how to make best ever Zarda Pulao at home….
2 cups, long grain basmati rice, soaked for an hour
1&1/2 cup, sugar
A generous pinch of saffron soaked in 1/4 cup of water atleast for few hours to develop best colour
1&1/2 tablespoon, Charoli nuts (chiraunji)
1/4 cup, cashews, broken
1/4 cup, raisins
3 tablespoon, dried coconut, sliced or chopped
4-5 green cardamom
1&1/2 inch size cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
4-5 tablespoon, ghee/unsalted butter
100 gms, khowa/mawa ( grated) or crumbled cottage cheese/malai paneer
1 teaspoon, orange zest ( a must, cannot be skipped)
1 teaspoon, lemon juice
A very small pinch of yellow food colour
Enough water for cooking rice
In a heavy bottom pan, bring enough water to boil.
Add soaked rice, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf.
Cook until rice is just 80% done. Please do not cook it beyond 80%. Strain the rice boiled rice, spread it on the plate and keep it aside for few minutes. Do not discard whole spices.
In another heavy bottom pan, heat ghee or butter
Add coconut, cashews, charoli nuts and raisins, few until they are light golden brown. Do not burn them
Add sugar, orange zest and saffron water. Cook until sugar melts well. Add lemon juice and mix. Allow it to boil for 1-2 minutes.
Add rice and gently mix and make sure that all the rice coats well with sugar-saffron mixture
Cook for a minute.
Sprinkle khowa all over the rice, cover the pan with tight lid and simmer (Dum) on very low flame for 15 minutes.
Once done, gently fluff up the rice with fork.