Iranian Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard) (Dairy Free & Glu

Total Time
2hrs 10mins
Prep 40 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins

This beautiful traditional Persian dessert is now a favorite of ours. This version is not overly sweet. Saffron, one of the most precious and most expensive spices in the world gives this pudding it's beautiful golden colour and rewarding flavour. Recipe by Nahal Lovessert, modified from I never would have imagined a rice pudding without milk could be so good!

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Wash rice. Rinse and drain the rice several times until the water runs clear. Add the rice to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add 8 cups of water to the pot and partially cover with a lid. Bring the rice to a boil over medium heat, occasionally skimming the foam off the top.
  3. Put saffron into 2 tbs warm water and set aside.
  4. Once rice is soft and boiling (approximately 30 minutes), add sugar and stir gently to dissolve. Add an additional 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Keep the rice partially covered and continue to cook over a medium-low heat for approximately 20 more minutes. Stiring occasionally.
  5. Put canola oil, rose water and the ground saffron threads along with their water into the rice and stir thoroughly to combine. Continue to cook, partially-covered, for another 20 minutes over low heat.
  6. Remove the lid and stir well. The mixture should start to look like a thick pudding-like cream; all the water should be boiled out at this point. Feel free to add more saffron to taste. The more saffron you add the richer the flavor and color of the pudding will be.
  7. Add the blanched slivered almonds and continue cooking over medium-low heat until a pudding-like texture develops (approximately 30 more minutes).
  8. Once thickened, remove the pot from the stove and pour the Sholeh Zard into a large, shallow plate and let it cool*. Once the top has dried into a thin, yet hard, layer you can decorate with the cinnamon and pistachios in a pretty pattern.
  9. Once cool, place the plate, covered into the refrigerator and continue chilling until the pudding has transformed into a jello-like consistency.
  10. *Optional serving styles: The pudding also tastes great warm (right after it’s done cooking).
  11. Which ever way you choose, we like both you may now serve the tastiest dessert along with a nice cup of tea.
  12. Enjoy!


Most Helpful

I am so sorry. I followed the instructions exactly. We tried it warm & cool. it *is* better chilled, imho. This just didn't go over well at all. comments included it was oily, not sweet enough. one wouldn't taste it. one just really didn't like it at all. Maybe if we had an intolerance to dairy it would be more appreciated. I see others love it so I think it's just a personal thing & not a reflection of the recipe. Made for Aussie Swap 5/12.

Elmotoo May 25, 2012

We are having friends over for dinner tonight who have severe food allergies, including dairy, egg, gluten, peanuts and almonds.I found this recipe and thought it might work for dessert with some minor tweaking. I used ground pistachios in place of the almonds and added a few bruised cardamom pods with the rosewater. It smelled amazing while cooking. I put it in ramekins to chill and decorated after about an hour. It made 8 servings for me, and my husband just wolfed one of them down when I asked him to try it. I'm sure it will be a hit tonight.

I found the rosewater in the international section at Whole Foods. It was much less expensive than I expected - a nice bonus since saffron is always pricey.

KMSoprano December 24, 2011

This is one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted! wow! I halved the recipe and used 1/3 cup sugar and brown basmati rice (so the first soak was 40 minutes.) I was worried at first because all my water hadn't absorbed after the 20-minute soak with the saffron, rosewater, and oil. I added some slivered almonds and raw pistachio pieces then let it simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 35 minutes. Because I made half, the mixture fit perfectly in an 8" pie pan-- I let it sit out for 10 minutes to gel a bit before I topped it with more slivered almonds and some cinnamon, I snuck a little bit while it was still warm and it DOES have a Jello-like consistency! Then I let it refridgerate overnight (uncovered) and it was even better the next day, wonderful with some strawberries on the side. This definitely isn't a rush-hour or last-minute dessert, but it isn't as hard or labor-intensive as it appears and for us whole grain nuts, brown basmati rice works great in this too. Thanks for a great post, I'll be making this again!!

the80srule February 25, 2011

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