Sholeh Zard (Saffron Rice Pudding)

This sweet Persian rice pudding called sholeh zard is made with three distinct ingredients: saffron, cardamom, and rosewater. It's delicate in flavor but so deeply aromatic that it's hard to stop eating it.

Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard)
Photo: © Abby Hocking
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins


  • 1 tablespoon lightly packed saffron threads

  • 1 1/2 cups water, boiling

  • 1 cup jasmine rice

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked

  • 2 tablespoons pure rosewater (preferably Sadaf brand, see Note)

  • Ground cinnamon and slivered almonds, for garnish


  1. In a mortar, using a pestle, finely grind the saffron. In a heatproof jar, mix the finely ground saffron with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Let stand until cool.

  2. In a large bowl, cover the rice with water. Using your hand, agitate the rice to release the starch, then carefully pour off the water. Rinse the rice 5 to 7 more times, until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with water and refrigerate overnight. Drain, then coarsely crumble with your hands.

  3. In a large nonstick saucepan, combine the crumbled rice with 9 cups of water and the salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is softened, about 30 minutes.

  4. Stir 6 tablespoons of the brewed saffron (reserve the rest for another use), sugar, butter, and cardamom into the rice. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice breaks down and the pudding is the texture of loose porridge, 20 to 30 minutes; discard the cardamom pods. Stir in the rosewater. Spoon the pudding into 8 glasses and let cool slightly. Cover the glasses with plastic and refrigerate until thickened, about 1 hour.

  5. Decorate the puddings with cinnamon and slivered almonds. Let stand at room temperature for 25 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead

The brewed saffron can be held in the refrigerator for up to one week. Puddings can be refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 25 minutes before serving.


Using a high-quality, pure rosewater is essential here. Look for Sadaf brand, which is available at

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