This sweet rice recipe also called Meethe chawal or Zarda pulao is made by cooking rice with sugar, dry fruits, and spices like green cardamom and cloves.
When we were kids, my mother used to do most of the cooking at home but there were a few dishes that were my father’s specialty. Papa also loves cooking however the chaos he leaves in the kitchen while cooking by mixing up all the spice jars and utensils, my mother doesn’t like the idea of him being in the kitchen :).
Today’s recipe is one such recipe that Papa used to prepare for us often when we were kids. It still reminds me of him.
The dish is a sweet rice recipe called Meethe chawal or Zarda Pulao.
What is Meethe Chawal?
Meethe Chawal also called Zarda Pulao is a sweet rice dish that is made by cooking rice with sugar, dry fruits, green cardamom, and saffron.
It is eaten in many South Asian and Middle Eastern countries and though the recipe may slightly vary in every region, the key ingredients will always be the same.
In India, Hindus make it, especially during Basant Panchami, a festival to celebrate the arrival of the spring season. On this day, people wear yellow clothes and eat yellow food to emulate the yellow mustard flowers that bloom in the fields during the season.
Recipe tips, tricks, and variation suggestions
- Use long-grain basmati rice to make meethe chawal.
- Don't overcook the rice in this dish otherwise, they will turn mushy and spoil the dessert.
- Adding saffron is recommended as it not only gives a nice yellow tint but also adds flavor to the dish. However, if you don't have saffron add a few drops of edible yellow color.
- You can also add jaggery powder instead of sugar.
- It tastes best when served hot.
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Meethe Chawal/ Zarda
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- ½ cup sugar adjust as per taste
- 3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 3 tbsp chopped dry fruits raisins, cashew nuts, almonds etc
- 3 pods green cardamom
- 4 cloves
- ½ teaspoon saffron strands
- 1.5 cups water
- Wash the rice and soak in water for around 30 minutes. After 30 minutes discard the water and keep the rice aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pan. Add dry fruits and saute for around 2 minutes or until they become golden brown. Take out the fried dry fruits on a plate.
- Add cardamom and cloves to the same pan and saute for a few seconds.
- Next, add water and saffron. Mix and then add rice. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes or till rice is half cooked.
- Remove the lid of the pan. Add sugar, 2 tablespoons ghee, and fried dry fruits. Mix and cover the pan again. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Keep on stirring after every 2-3 minutes to avoid burning. Once the rice is cooked, switch off the gas. Let the pan remain covered for at least 5 minutes and then enjoy!
- Don’t overcook the rice otherwise, it will become mushy when you fry it.
- Use long grain basmati rice for best results.
- This amount of sugar will give a moderate sweetness to the dish. Please adjust the amount to get the desired sweetness.
- You can also add dried coconut pieces or any other dry fruit of your choice to this dish.