Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice
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4.85 from 13 votes

Instant Pot Pakistani Zarda Sweet Rice

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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Rice, Side Dishes
Cuisine: Pakistani
Servings: 4
Calories: 324kcal
Author: Urvashi Pitre


Saffron Mixture:

For the Rice:


  • 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. 


Calories: 324kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g