Shole Zard

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 45 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
Shole zard, also known as Persian saffron rice pudding, is unlike any other rice pudding you’ve tasted. The main flavor of the dish comes from saffron, which is complemented by subtle notes of rosewater and cardamom. Shole refers to the pudding-like texture and zard means yellow in Farsi. The dessert is served on many occasions, including the month of Ramadan for iftar, the evening meal that breaks the daily fast.


Rice Pudding:



  1. Rinse the rice 5 to 8 times to get rid of the excess starch. Set it aside.
  2. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and cook over medium heat until fully cooked and mushy, 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding more water if needed. The consistency should be thicker than soup, but not too thick.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle the ground saffron on 2 cubes of ice in a small bowl or glass and let the ice melt. This will be your bloomed saffron.
  4. Once the rice is cooked and mushy, add the sugar and butter and cook stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add the bloomed saffron and the cardamom pods. Lower the heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the saffron and cardamom flavor have seasoned the rice, about 15 minutes. Remove the cardamom pods from the rice pudding and stir in the rosewater. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and let the shole zard sit until it’s no longer piping hot, about 10 minutes. Divide the rice pudding among 6 serving bowls, let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. Before serving, top each bowl with a pinch of cinnamon and some slivered almonds, pistachios and rose petals if using. Shole zard can be served cold from the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Cook’s Note

Short- and medium-grain rice will produce a rice pudding with a creamy unified texture. Avoid long-grain rice like basmati, which will cook up with separate grains. Do not worry if the rice pudding is still loose when you remove it from the heat. It will thicken as it cools.

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