Summary: Azadeh teaches us how to make a sweet, soft and saffroni desert for Iftar
The tradition of making Shol’e Zard or Saffron pudding during the Holy month of Ramadan is a well-established practice in many families in Iran. Shol’e means “not too solid,” that refers to the texture of the pudding. And zard refers to the royal yellow color stolen from brewed saffron. Although the rice pudding is prepared throughout the year for many other occasions, it is an inseparable staple of Iftar table. Filling the air with its rosewater and cardamom aroma, it reiterates the holy ambiance of the moment. Need more credit to roll up the sleeves and make this sweet aromatic treat? It is not sold in any pastry shop. So follow me on this sweet culinary adventure.
Prep time: 30 min.
Cooking time: 1 hr 15 min.
Ready in: 1 hr. 45 min.
Saffron Rice Pudding
2 cups Basmati rice (Jasmine rice can be used as well)
4 cups sugar
10 cups water
50 grams butter (3.6 tablspoons)
½ cup heavily brewed saffron
½ cup rosewater
½ cup slivered almond
½ teaspoon cardamom, crushed
Cinnamon powder, almond or pistachio as needed
1- Wash the rice under lukewarm water; then drain the water. Repeat once or twice. Then soak rice in water for 30 minutes (It is best to soak the rice overnight). Soaking rice longer in water helps to break it faster and cuts back the cooking time. After 30 minutes start rubbing the rice grains against each other to break them into shorter grains. The Saffron Rice Pudding will look more consistent when it resembles less like a rice pilaf.
2- Fill the pot with rice and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. As it starts boiling, the rice will “blossom”- losing its shape and producing more starch – and floats on the surface. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
3- Add saffron gradually until reaching desired hue. While the pudding is cooking, the color will deepen to some extent. However, do not overdo saffron since you do not want to end up with an orange color rice pudding. The best color is a deep yellow. Stir well. Then add sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Lower the heat to medium until it boils again. Stir frequently. Then add butter.
4- Since the mixture is saturated with sugar and starch, it requires constant stirring to prevent it from burning and subsiding toward the bottom. Then add the crushed cardamom which adds a strong aroma to the pudding.
5- Soak slivered almonds in rosewater before adding them to the pot.
6-Add almond and rosewater to the pot. Stir well.
7- From here on, the mixture needs constant stirring. The key to a well-cooked rice pudding is that when stirring toward the end, you should feel a slight resistance against the spatula. But the liquid should not evaporate completely. When the rice pudding chills, the rice will absorb the remaining liquid. Therefore, if all the liquid is absorbed, the rice pudding will be too stiff which will not be pleasant. The whole process takes about 1 hour 15 minutes if following this exact measurement.
8- When the rice pudding reaches the desired consistency, turn off the heat. Transfer the pudding immediately into serving bowls and let it set in the room temperature. The rice pudding can be consumed warm. But the best way to enjoy a true Saffron Rice Pudding taste is to let it cool off until its surface is no longer wet. Then garnish with generous amount of cinnamon powder and pistachio. This pudding keeps well refrigerated for a week. Noosh-e jān!