Zarda Pulao (Sweet Rice)

Zarda Pulao is also known as Zafraani Zarda Pulao (Sweet Saffron Rice). The dish is not really a dessert but more like a finishing touch to your main course. Zarda pulao has been a mandatory dish to finish the Friday lunch (Compulsory congregation prayers are offered on Fridays).  In my family, the Friday menu has been a tradition – plain rice, dal gosht, and zarda pulao. It definitely has a special place on the Eid menu too (Try Cukzy’s Eid Recipes)! Adding milk, khoya, or pineapple are optional. I personally like it with diced pineapples 🙂



  • 1 cup Basmati Rice

  • 1 cup sugar (can be adjusted according to own taste)

  • 3 Green Cardamoms

  • 3 Cloves

  • 1 stick cinnamon

  • 3 tbsp Ghee

  • Few Raisins

  • 1 tsp chironji

  • Cashew Nuts

  • Few strands of saffron soaked in warm water

  • Pinch of Saffron food color

  • 2 tbsp Rose Water

  • 1 ½ cups of warm water


  • Wash and soak the rice for half an hour. Parboil the rice and add the saffron.

  • Heat ghee in a cooking pan and add cloves and cardamoms, fry for a minute until fragrant.

  • Add rice and continue frying until all the grains are well coated with ghee.

  • Pour warm water (you can also pour milk – its optional) over the rice and cook on low heat till it is almost done.

  • Now add sugar, saffron food color, nuts, raisins, rose water and cook for another 5 minutes until the rice is completely cooked.

  • Fluff it up with a fork and serve.

Note: You can add crushed khoya to make it rich. Some of houses also use canned pineapple, which is diced and added to the pulao during the last minute of the cooking of rice. Cover after adding the pineapples so that they soften in the steam.