saffron pudding {sholeh zard}

it’s on days like this i wish there was an aroma button on the blog-i wish you could be here and smell the heavenly scent that surrounds me as this golden potion simmers away. there’s nothing that reminds me more of my grandma and all the times i spent watching her cook than the combined odor of saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. to this day the smell of cardamom makes me (almost) feel like i’m being hugged by her (she often smelled like it because she used it so much). come to think of it, sholeh zard (or yellow flame) holds an important place in my collection of childhood memories-it was ever present at the table during family celebrations and holiday gatherings-the sweet smell of cinnamon strong in the air. today as i add fragrant rosewater to the simmering rice and the oh-so familiar scent rises up to meet me, i feel an undeniable connection to my past-i remind myself that i must teach my children to cook the  traditional dishes that have been lovingly prepared in our family kitchens for generations. sholeh zard is definitely one of them: a sweet and very rich dessert, a treat to be enjoyed on special occasions-by all means, treat yourself!
ingredients (for 8 servings) and preparation:
  • 1 cup rice
  • about 6 cups water
  • 1/2 (or slightly more) cup rosewater
  • 1-2 tsp ground saffron (dissolved in a few tsp warm water)
  • 1-2 tsp ground cardamom (to taste)
  • 2 cups sugar (!!)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • about 2-3 tsp cinnamon (garnish)
  • 2-3 tsp each slivered almonds and pistachios (garnish)
1. wash the rice in water until it runs clear. add 4 cups of water, the rice and salt to a large pot and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot (partially) and simmer for about 40-45 minutes until the rice is soft as above.
2. add the sugar (i reduced the sugar to 1.5 cups, and had some unhappy customers:)  and 2 more cups of water, cover, then cook for about 45 minutes more while stirring occasionally.
3. add the rosewater, saffron dissolved in water, cardamom, and butter and make sure everything is combined well. simmer for another 25-30 minutes on low heat or until the mixture has thickened (not too thick).
4. pour sholeh zard into a big bowl or individual serving bowls, then garnish with cinnamon
and slivered nuts. serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold.  nomnom!
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5 Comments on “saffron pudding {sholeh zard}

  1. Thank you for your lovely recipes.
    Do you use Persian rice or something more closely resembling arborio?
    With the lengthy cook time, what kind of texture should the rice have?

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