One of my favorite international desserts is Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice. It’s as beautiful as it is delicious. I spent a lot of time trying to simplify this recipe so it was all done in one step. I literally made this pressure cooker zarda four times before I was happy.
Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice
Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice is a delicious Pakistani dessert that is full of rich flavor and texture. It’s famous for the pretty yellow color it gets from the saffron that’s in the recipe. It also has nuts and raisins making it have an interesting texture, besides just the softness of the rice.
Why do I have to grind my own spices?
I suppose you don’t have to grind your own spices, but I highly recommend it. When you grind your own spices, it keeps the herbs and spices fresh, and you garner much more flavor for your recipe.
In this Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice specifically, grinding the saffron helps to release the color and flavor more so it can absorb into the rice while it cooks. You can just throw in sprigs of saffron, but the results won’t be as delicious.
EQUIPMENT YOU MAY NEED TO MAKE THIS PAKISTANI ZARDA SWEET RICE:
- Instant Pot Mini Duo, or Instant pot 6 quarts, or Instant Pot 8 Quarts
- Measuring Cups
- My favorite Cutting Board
- Good set of Kitchen Knives
- Mortar and Pestle to grind up the spices and saffron. This one is inexpensive but effective
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One of my favorite international desserts is Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice. It's as beautiful as it is delicious. I spent a lot of time trying to simplify this recipe so it was all done in one step.
- 2-3 threads Saffron
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
Make the Saffron Mixture: In a mortar and pestle, grind together the 1 teaspoon sugar and saffron strands. You’re doing this so that the saffron mixes well with the rice later.
Mix the saffron with 1/4 cup warm milk (15 seconds in microwave) and set aside
You can also just soak the saffron threads with 1/4 cup warm milk (15 seconds in microwave) and set aside, but grinding the saffron first releases more aroma and color into the rice.
Turn your instant pot on sauté High and when it is hot, add 1 tablespoon ghee. When the ghee is hot add the nuts and raisins and cook until they are lightly browned and the raisins are puffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove nuts and raisins leaving behind as much of the ghee as possible.
Add another tablespoon of ghee and all remaining ingredients including rice, water, sugar, saffron milk (saffron and milk together), ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves
Cook at high pressure for 6 mins HP and allow it to release all pressure naturally.
Add reserved nuts and raisins, mix with a gentle hand so as to not break the rice, and serve.
You can certainly make this with sugar if that's what you prefer, or switch it out for your favorite sugar substitutes.
I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information is provided a courtesy, and can vary depending on the exact ingredients you use.
Don’t forget to check out my Instant Pot Fast & Easy Cookbook!
This book is full of all kinds of boldly flavored and internationally-themed recipes—Mexican, Thai, Moroccan, and more—with Instant Pot Fast & Easy, fully authorized by Instant Pot. Just like you have come to expect, my recipes will work perfectly every time, and of course taste great too. And because these are Instant Pot recipes, dishes like Japanese Chicken Curry, Chinese Steamed Ribs, and Mexican Pulled Pork are ready in a fraction of the time they would take using traditional cooking methods. As with all of my recipes, the focus is on whole foods instead of artificial convenience ingredients, so the recipes are delicious, easy, and healthful too.