Iftar Specials: Sholeh Zard, an Iranian Rice & Saffron Pudding

Sholeh Zard

During Ramadan or Ramzan, as we call it, you’ll find me loitering a lot near the mosques and the mosque-lacing gullies. Why? I am surprised you would even ask! The heavy aromas of sheekh kababs and biryani, scrumptious-looking desserts and joyous lights: where would you rather be than this portable little gastropubs selling heaven for your tastebuds? I would just note down all the Iftar timings and land myself in there to taste some extraordinary Iftar specials. That’s my dinner in the entire month of Ramadan minus Roza. You can identify the faithfuls and the greedies from this behavior.

Where I stay in Mumbai, we have two extraordinary ‘gully’ where you can get your hands on Ramadan specials. First is Nerul and second is Ghansoli. On most days I am unable to decide where should I go to. Both the places have their own array of slurrpy offering. So last night I went to Nerul and checked out this beautiful “kheer” or pudding that reminded me of Sholeh Zard. The taste was very similar: with a hint of cinnamon and raisins, creamy rice and a to-die-for aroma that goes right in and gives you a tight hug from within.

The first time I had Sholeh Zard was in the form of “payesh” that granny prepared. Staying in Bangladesh and having her friends in the elite circle, she picked up quite a lot of recipes. Much later, I had this kheer at a Muslim shop during Ramadan and got to know its name and origin. Think of it as farsan but with rose water, water and sugar. You can call it a sweet sticky rice pudding. Whatever you call, this is the perfect nostalgic Iftar food and I couldn’t wait to have a batch sitting in my refrigerator as my disposal.  

Take a look.


Sholeh Zard

Time taken: 40 min

Taste-o-meter: Sweet



  • Broken Basmati, uncooked: 1.5 cups
  • Water: 8 cups
  • Salt: 1/4 tsp 
  • Sugar: 3 cups 
  • Crushed saffron: 1/4 tsp
  • Hot water: 2 tbsp
  • Unsalted butter, at room temp: 1/4 cup
  • Ground cardamom: 1 tsp
  • Rose water: 1/4 cup
  • Ground cinnamon: 1 tsp


  • In a non-stick pot, bring rice water and 1/4 tsp salt to boil.
  • After it comes to a boil, skim the white foam from the surface as it forms.
  • Cover and cook the rice till it is completely soft.
  • Stir-in sugar and cook for another 15-20 min.
  • While the rice cooks with the sugar, soak saffron in warm water in another bowl.
  • After 20 min, add saffron to rice along with the liquid, butter and rose water.
  • Give it another 5 min before putting in cardamom and cinnamon powders.
  • Cover and cool for 2 h.
  • Serve chilled.
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