Home Recipe by CategoryDesserts Zarda | Meethe Chawal | Sweet Yellow Rice Easy Recipe

Zarda | Meethe Chawal | Sweet Yellow Rice Easy Recipe

by Farhana

Zarda also called ‘Meethe Chawal’ is a delicious and aromatic Pakistani/Indian dessert recipe. It has a deep yellow colour. Zarda gets its name from the word ‘zard’ زرد, which means ‘yellow’ in Urdu and Persian. This cardamom and saffron flavoured rice dish with aromatic fragrance is an absolute showstopper. It is so delicious and satisfying after a salty and spicy meal. It is commonly made during the Eid festivals or served on weddings and special occasions in Pakistan.

Zarda Recipe
Zarda Recipe

This traditional yellow-coloured sweet rice dish is delicately flavoured with aromatic whole spices and saffron and loaded with dry fruits and nuts. The garnishes like khoya or mawa add a rich creaminess to the dessert, whereas the rose petals, gulab jamun, rasgulla and chandi warq or edible silver leaves provide a visual appeal. The spices and saffron impart enticing aromas, while the nuts add extra crunch and give a rich flavour.

Meethe Chawal
Meethe Chawal

Zarda can be quite often perceived as a difficult recipe, but trust me it is super easy to make with this step by step recipe with perfect result. With this quick and easy recipe anyone can make this iconic dessert under 40 minutes. All of the ingredients can be easily found at your local South Asian grocery stores. I hope you will try this recipe and do let me know in the comments below how it tastes.

What goes in Zarda?

For Boiling Rice and Assembling:

Ingredients for Zarda
Ingredients for Zarda

For Garnishing (Optional):

Zarda Garnishing
Zarda Garnishing

How is Zarda served?

  • Zarda is best served warm as it is, alongside a cup of tea.
  • This sweetened rice recipe provides a wonderful end to any meal.
  • It is also often served alongside biryani or pulao. I also love the delicious sweet and spicy flavours. You should try this combination, you’ll be blown away, I am sure.
Zarda Pulao
Zarda Pulao

How long can I store the zarda?

  • Zarda keeps well in the refrigerator up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  • You can also freeze your zarda rice up to a month.
  • Reheating: When reheating, sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or milk and microwave until heated through.
Sweet Rice - Zarda
Sweet Rice – Zarda

Recipe Notes & Tips:

  • Adjust sugar according to your taste.
  • Use the best quality long grain basmati rice for this recipe.
  • Use a wide cooking pot so the rice doesn’t break.
  • If your rice still has room to cook i.e. the rice still has bite to it, sprinkle 3 to 4 tablespoons of water on the rice. Cover and allow it to cook on low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • The topping or garnishing is entirely optional. You can garnish your zarda with whatever you like.

Variations and Substitutes:

  • If you don’t want to use food color you can use turmeric powder and saffron to color it.
  • You can also keep the colour white it won’t affect the taste.
  • You can also use brown sugar or jaggery powder instead of white sugar to make a healthier version of sweet rice.
  • If you struggle with cooking basmati rice, then go for sella rice as it doesn’t mush or overcook easily.
  • Make this Zarda vegan by using oil instead of ghee.
  • You can also add dried orange peels to your zarda rice to add a hint of citrus flavor & aroma.
Pakistani Sweet Rice
Pakistani Sweet Rice

To Make the Saffron Mixture:

  • In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron strands. Once the saffron strands are crushed, add 1 tablespoon hot water and mix till dissolved. You can also use warm milk instead of water.
  • You can also just soak the saffron threads in warm water or milk for 15 to 20 minutes, but grinding the saffron helps to release more aroma, color and flavor.
Easy Zarda Recipe

More Pakistani Desserts:

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Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 5 voted )


For Boiling Rice:

  • Long Grain Basmati Rice (soaked for 30 minutes) – 2 cups
  • Water – 5 cups
  • Green Cardamom (slightly cracked open) – 4 pods
  • Star Anise – 1
  • Cinnamon Sticks – 2
  • Cloves – 3 or 4
  • Food Color (yellow) – ½ teaspoon

For Assembling:

  • Desi Ghee or Clarified Butter – 2 tablespoons
  • Fine Granulated Sugar – 1½ cup
  • Cardamom Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg Powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Kewra Essence – 1 teaspoon
  • Rose Water – 1 teaspoon
  • Saffron Strands (dissolved in some hot water, read the method above) – 15 to 20 strands

For Garnishing (Optional):

  • Pistachios (roughly chopped) – ¼ cup
  • Dried Coconut (thinly sliced) – ¼ cup
  • Almonds (slivered) – ¼ cup
  • Raisins – ¼ cup
  • Rose Petals or Rose Buds (dried) – as required
  • Khoya – ½ cup
  • Gulab Jamun – 4 or 5
  • Rasgulla – 4 or 5
  • Edible Silver Leaves or Chandi Warq – 3 or 4


Step by step recipe is given below:

  1. In a large pot, add water, green cardamom pods, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and food color. Stir to combine and bring everything to a boil. Then add the rice and cook until the rice is parboiled, about ¾ cooked through.
  2. Immediately strain the rice and set aside.
  3. Now in a thick bottom pot, melt the desi ghee and spread the boiled rice in pot.
  4. Sprinkle with the sugar, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder. Drizzle kewra essence, rose water and the dissolved saffron on top.
  5. Now add the pistachios, sliced coconut, slivered almonds and raisins.
  6. Now place a towel (or aluminum foil) underneath the lid and wrap it around. Place the lid on top of the pot and steam cook (undisturbed) on the lowest heat for around 20 to 25 minutes. This process of cooking in steam is called ‘dum’. Cook till the rice is fully cooked and the sugar has completely dissolved but do not overcook as the rice turns mushy.
  7. Once done, turn off the heat. Uncover and gently fluff the rice with a big spatula to mix in the sugar.
  8. Let it sit with the lid on for another few minutes before serving. This helps the rice rest and soak in any remaining moisture.
  9. Transfer into a serving dish and garnish with rose petals, khoya, gulab jamun, rasgulla and chandi warq. It’s totally up to you how you would like to relish your zarda.

Serve and Enjoy! And Remember ‘COOKING IS EASY’!


  • Adjust sugar according to your taste.
  • Use the best quality long grain basmati rice for this recipe.
  • The topping or garnishing is entirely optional. You can garnish your zarda with whatever you like.
  • Use a wide cooking pot so the rice it doesnt break.
Did You Make This Recipe?
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