Recipe: Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard)

This is my mother's recipe for sholeh zard, a traditional Iranian rice pudding whose name translates to "yellow soup." Flavored with saffron and garnished with cinnamon, it's perfect for cold fall days served either warm or cold.

For more about saffron in Iranian cuisine, click here.

    • 2/3 cup Basmati rice
    • 2 cups water
    • 3-4 tablespoons butter
    • 1-1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 tablespoons rosewater
    • large pinch saffron
    • silvered almonds (optional)

Rinse the rice and place in medium-sized pot. Add water and butter and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally so that the rice does not stay whole. Smash with the back of a fork if necessary, and add more water if needed.

Once the rice is cooked, add sugar (taste as you add the sugar in stages so it is not too sweet). Cook some more until sugar melts and the rice pudding thickens. Stir in rosewater.

Add the crushed saffron to the pudding. (You may rub the saffron mixed with a tablespoon of sugar with the back of a spoon so it is crushed well.) Add a handful of slivered almonds. Simmer for a while. Note: you may adjust the pudding by adding water or boiling on higher heat if necessary to acquire the desired thickness.

Put the pudding in serving dishes and decorate with cinnamon to create an interesting pattern on it. If desired, cut a stencil from paper to print a pattern on its surface. Can be served warm or chilled.

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Nozlee Samadzadeh was raised in Oklahoma and went to school in Connecticut, where she interned at the Yale Sustainable Food Project. She now lives and cooks in Brooklyn, where she spends her time combining her three favorite things: computers, farming, and food.

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