Zarda is a traditional dish of Pakistan and is a favorite of many. It is made with rice cooked in sugar syrup and garnished with assorted nuts and dry fruits. My mom used to make the best zarda (may her soul rest in peace), although I never stood next to her and learned the art of making zarda but my mind captures the images of ingredients she used to add in zarda such as orange juice, a bit of yogurt, sliced and dried orange peel… cloves while boiling the water for rice and only added almonds, pistachios and raisins as dry fruits and nuts. Ami always used basmati rice but I have used sela rice instead (you can’t go wrong with sella). Good thing is after many trials and errors I am finally able to make zarda as good as ami used to make…. So here’s the recipe.
500 gm rice (best to use good quality sella rice)
¼ tsp yellow color
Orange peel (thinly sliced)
3-5 small cardamoms
¼ cup ghee
1/2 cup orange juice
350-400 gm sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp yogurt
A few drops of kewra essence
½ cup assorted dry fruits and nuts (raisins, almonds, pistachios, sliced coconuts, dried dates)
Petha methai (150 gm)
1) Soak sella rice for 4-5 hours. Soak almonds, dried dates and coconut slices in warm water for a few hours, then remove the skin from almonds, cut the dried dates in to thin slices and set aside.
2) Boil water with yellow color and cloves and 2-3 cardamoms. Once the water starts to boil add in the rice and cook till fully done, drain and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Heat oil and add in 2-3 cardamoms and orange peel, and stir it for a 2 minutes then add in the sugar and salt, add half cup orange juice along with 2 tbsp of yogurt in it. Mix it well till sugar dissolves (just 2-3 minutes).
3) Add in the boiled rice in it and cook on high flame. When water starts to dry up put then pan on tawa, sprinkle all the dry fruits, nuts and kewra essence on top of zarda, put the lid on and lower the flame and put on dum for 15- 20 minutes.
4) Uncover the pan, add in the petha methai (chopped in to bite size pieces) , mix everything up nicely, zarda is ready to be served.