Zarda Pulao

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Zarda Pulao




10 min


20 min

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Zarda Pulao/ Meethey Chawal

Zarda Pulao is a traditionally sweet rice recipe of North India. Zarda Pulao is also known as Peelay Meethey Chawal,Saffron Rice or Kesari Bhaat because of it’s yellow color got from using saffron or yellow food color. This sweet pulao recipe is a preparation of rice with sugar, saffron, nuts and aromatic spices. Its name is inspired by its beautiful and bright yellow colour, as yellow in persian is known as “Zard”.

Festive Significance

In North India Zarda Pulao or Meethey Chawal is specially made on the occasion of Saraswati Puja on the festival of Vasant Panchami (or spelled as Basant Panchami). Vasant in hindi means “Spring” and panchami means fifth, hence it falls on the fifth day of hindu calendar month of magha. The Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of spring – “The king of all seasons”. This festival also celebrates the agricultural fields ripening with yellow flowers of the mustard crop.

People celebrate Vasant panchami festival by wearing yellow clothes, eating yellow sweet dishes and offering yellow flowers to devi Saraswati. Special bhog prasad which is yellow in colour like Kesari Halwa, Saffron Kheer or Zarda Pulao, is prepared for Devi Saraswati.

Yellow in color

The typical Zarda Pulao has a yellow color, obtained by adding saffron and/or using a little bit of yellow food color. A combination of both gives the nice and perfect color as well as mesmerizing aroma to the recipe.

Though this dish has a festive significance, I often prepare it for my family at home. I add various types of dry fruits and nuts to my preparation, which, in addition to rich taste, also gives it an amazing appearance. My family as well as guests love to have them as dessert, especially on special occasions because of it’s unique taste.

Always keep in mind the following whenever you make Zarda Pulao / Meethey Chawal / Peeley Chawal / Sweet rice:

1.Use basmati rice for this recipe because of it’s long grains and sweet taste quality;
2.Always use desi ghee / clarified butter in this recipe because it gives nice taste and aroma to the dish.

Below is the recipe along with tips to make perfect Zarda Pulao.

So, Let’s Start Now


For Rice

Basmati rice -1bowl
Water – 4 cup
Ghee / Clarified Butter – 2 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 1 tbsp
Chopped Coconuts – 1 tbsp
Chopped Almonds – 1 tbsp
Raisins – 1 tbsp
Dates – 1 tbsp
Whole Spices –
Bay leaf – 1
Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch
Cloves – 2
Green Cardamom – 2
Yellow Food Color – 1 pinch
Saffron Strands – few
Milk – ¼ cup
Sugar – 1 bowl
Cardamom Powder – ¼ tsp

For Garnishing

Fried dry nuts- 2 tbsp


1.First wash and soak basmati rice for ½ an hour.
2.Now take a wok and transfer the soaked rice into the wok and add 4 cups of water
3.Cook rice for 6-7 minutes on medium flame until 90% cooked.

4.Now strain the rice quickly through a strainer.

5.Let the rice cool down.

6.Heat another pan and add 2 tbsp of ghee.

7.Now fry all the nuts one by one like cashew, almonds, raisins and dates until brown to make it crunchy.


8.Now in the same wok, add all whole spices like bayleaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and green cardamoms, fry them in ghee on a low flame until they smell good.

9.Now add 90% cooked rice, yellow food color, dissolve in 1 tbsp of water and saffron strands soaked in ¼ cup of milk to give bright yellow color and aroma.
10.Mix all well with light hands carefully so that the rice doesn’t get mushy.
11.Now add 1 bowl of sugar and cardamom powder, mix well.

12.Now cover the rice for 2 minutes until the sugar melts and rice cooks completely.

13.Uncover the rice, if it still has any moisture, cook until all the moisture evaporates and the rice turns glossy.

14.Add half fried nuts and mix well. Take it off the flame.

15.Transfer the Zarda Pulao to a serving plate, garnish it with the rest of the nuts.

Enjoy your delicious Zarda Pulao.

Hot and Sour Soup

Tips for making perfect Zarda Pulao :

1.Quantity of sugar you can adjust according to your taste.
2.Add dry fruits of your choice.
3.You can double or triple the recipe according to your need.

You may also refer to the below video for detailed any clarity: