Monday, April 28, 2014

Iranian Saffron Pudding : The big reveal now you can finally know the recipe behind the blog's name. As I mentioned in the About me page, saffron pudding is actually  rice saffron pudding which is often (in my community) served in commemorations and consolations. It is also a "blessed" food as we say, because you start with only one cup of rice and you end up with about 8 cups of pudding.

To tell the truth, I disliked this dessert for most of my life. My mom would bring those little covered plastic cups filled with "shullah zard"  from consolations and I remember me thinking " who would ever think of cooking such a dessert and passing it on to people".  I was disgusted with its babyfood/iesh texture,  and its complex flavors didn't suit my child's tongue that was accustomed to chocolate and ice-cream.

Until one gloomy cloudy afternoon in a small town called "State College"  I was cleaning the kitchen of our little townhouse - having lived in the u.s for 3 years and still a long way to go before returning home. I heard a knock  When I opened the door  a  5 year old boy was standing there, a small dish in his hands covered with aluminum paper. " My mom tells you to recite Surat Fatiha when you eat it". He was the son of my good friend and neighbor from Kuwait "Um Ali". "Inshallah" I said with a smile, took the plate and thanked him.

When I returned to the kitchen, I took the cover out of the plate and there before my eyes was the dessert that I hated for most of my life. Only now it had a different effect on me. There before my eyes was something familiar. Food that I know. Food that made me think of home. Food that I had memories with.

The first bite wasn't dramatic. I still did not like the texture very much. But I found myself wanting to  take a second bite , a third, a forth ..until I had eaten about half the plate.  I am not sure wether it was my taste buds that have changed as I became an adult, or maybe that living in the U.S  had changed my perspective on food and flavors or maybe I had  just longed for something familiar , but on that gloomy afternoon I  had finally fallen in love with the mysterious ugly dessert of my childhood and my gloomy day wasn't so gloomy after all. 

Saffron Pudding ( Shullah Zard) Recipe 
(recipe courtesy by Najmieh Batmanglij from her book New Food of Life with slight modifications)

1 cup rice

7 cups water 
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1/2 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbs hot water
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup rose water
ground cinnamon, pistachios, sliced almonds and rose petals for garnish. (all optional)

- Clean the rice and washing and draining several times.

- In a large pot, combine rice with 4 cups of water and the salt. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and over medium-low heat let it simmer for 35 minutes until the rice becomes soft. 

- Add 3 more cups of water and sugar. Cook for 25 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add butter, almonds if using, saffron water, cardamom and rose water. Mix well. Cover and simmer over low heat for another 20 minutes or until the mixture is cooked and has thickened. 

- Spoon the pudding into individual serving dishes or a large bowl. Decorate with ground cinnamon, pistachios, sliced almonds and rose petals. Transfer to the refrigerator. Serve cold. *

* traditionally the pudding is served cold but I have liked the pudding warm as well. 


  1. This looks lovely Fatemah - I also used to turn my nose at this stuff as a kid and now I can't get enough. Yum!

    1. Thank you. It's always amazing how the dishes that we hated as children turn into our favorites as adults.