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Pakistani Sweet Rice/ Zarda

Course Dessert
Cuisine Pakistani
Keyword Cooking, Dessert, Pakistani, Rice, Traditional
Servings 6 Servings


  • cups parboiled basmati rice (Sela rice), soaked in cold water for at least 2 hours
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Orange or yellow food coloring, optional
  • ¼ cup clarified butter or neutral flavored oil
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup candied fruit
  • ½ cup sliced almonds or pistachios
  • ¼ teaspoon Kewra essence (screwpine)


  1. Combine water, salt, and food coloring in a large vessel and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Drain the soaked rice, and add to the boiling water. Cook until the rice is done. Strain and set aside.
  2. In the same vessel, heat clarified butter (or oil) over medium heat. Add cardamoms and cloves and cook for 1 minute. Add strained rice, sugar, candied fruit, sliced nuts, and Kewra essence, and mix gently.
  3. Cover, reduce heat to low, and steam the rice for 30 minutes, making sure not to remove the lid during this time.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove from heat, gently fluff the rice and serve.