Meethe Chawal or Zarda is an aromatic and sweet saffron rice pulao. It is considered one of the most auspicious dishes to celebrate festivals such as Baisakhi, Lohri, Bengali New Year, or Eid. Be sure to watch the video!
About Meethe Chawal
Desserts made with rice are widely popular in the Indian subcontinent.
As per the folklore, it is considered a good omen, to combine rice with sugar, and milk and serve as a sacred offering to the deity of the family. Meethe Chawal is one such popular festive Indian dessert.
The dish has different regional names – mishti pulao, zarda, sweet rice, meetha pulao. All these regional names refer to a decadent, aromatic, sweet, and savory rice pulao. The earthy taste of whole spices and the sweetness of saffron make this sweet pulao a perfect melody of flavors.
Enriched with the aroma of saffron and cardamom, this zarda pulao is the fitting end to a conventional festive meal.
My Tried & True Tips
Always make sure to use long grain good quality basmati rice for making the zarda.
While cooking rice for zarda, make sure it is not mushy or sticky. Hence, it is best to cook it in a wide heavy bottom saucepan.
After cooking the rice for meethe chawal, allow it to sit on a colander for a few minutes to drain all the water from the rice. This step helps in making a perfectly fluffy zarda.
Many recipes suggest adding food color, but I stick only to saffron and a tiny bit of turmeric.
To make Zarda pulao more rich and indulgent, one can add grated khoya (mawa), orange zest, fried coconut, edible rose petals, and chironji.
The leftover sweet pulao or meethe chawal can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days. Allow the zarda to cool down completely before storing.
How To Reheat
Microwave Method: Transfer the sweet rice to a microwave-safe bowl, cover the bowl with a lid, heat for 3 minutes, stir the rice using a fork and once again heat for another 3 minutes. This way you will get perfectly warm sweet pulao.
Gas Stove Method: Transfer sweet pulao to a heavy bottom frying pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup of water over the rice. Then, close the pan with a lid and heat over low flame for 3 – 5 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the pulao halfway through the heating time.
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Meethe Chawal Recipe
- Heavy Bottom Kadhai
Ingredients For Cooking Rice:
- 1 Cup long grain basmati rice
- an inch stick of cinnamon (dal chini)
- 4 cloves (laung)
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- 4 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- ¼ teaspoon saffron (kesar)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Ingredients For Meethe Chawal:
- ¼ Cup ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 tablespoon cashews (kaju)
- 2 tablespoon golden raisins (kishmish)
- 2 tablespoon sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoon sliced pistachio
- ½ Cup milk
- ⅓ Cup sugar or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon saffron
Ingredients For Garnish:
- 1 teaspoon edible rose petals
How To Make Rice:
- Clean, wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes in water.
- In a large saucepan, add soaked rice, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt, saffron strands, turmeric powder, and water. Stir to combine.
- Cook till the rice is parboiled (halfway cooked through). Turn off the heat. Drain the water from the cooked rice and let it sit on a metal colander. Remove the whole spices.
How To Make Meethe Chawal:
- Heat ghee in a heavy bottom wide skilet.
- Fry the dry fruits for 5 – 10 seconds in the ghee and transfer half of them to a bowl.
- Add milk over the remaining dry fruits, stir and cook for 1 – 2 minutes or till it reduces a bit in quantity.
- Next, add the prepared rice and spread it evenly.
- Add sugar, fried dry fruits, and saffron strands. Close the skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to cook and absorb the flavor of aromatics at the lowest heat.
- Cook the rice this way for 5 – 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. And do not open the lid of the skillet until you are ready to serve the sweet pulao.
- Open the lid of the pan, gently fluff the rice using a fork and garnish with rose petals.
- Serve Meethe Chawal or Zarda pulao warm.
- Always make sure to use long grain good quality basmati rice for making the zarda.
- While cooking rice for zarda, make sure it is not mushy or sticky. Hence, it is best to cook it in a wide heavy bottom saucepan.
- After cooking the rice for sweet pulao, allow it to sit on a colander for a few minutes to drain all the water from the rice. This step helps in making a perfectly fluffy zarda.
- Many recipes suggest adding food color, but I stick only to saffron and a tiny bit of turmeric.
- To make Zarda pulao more rich and indulgent, one can add grated khoya (mawa), orange zest, fried coconut, edible rose petals, and chironji.
- You can store leftover zarda in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days.
- You can reheat zarda pulao in a microwave.