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A Spicy Dessert You’ll Never Forget

Sholeh Zard

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the sunrays were splashing all over the inside of our kitchen. This beautiful scene inspired my craving for something rich and yellow, and before I knew it I was behind the stove boiling rice. You may ask why I was willing to boil rice during the heat of the day, but I knew the end result would be one of my favorite chilled desserts called Sholeh Zard.

Sholeh Zard, a traditional Persian delicacy, was my grandmother’s most favorite dessert and I have come to share her love for it as I have grown older. What makes this rice pudding so unique and undeniably popular is the rich taste of saffron spice. Saffron, one of the most precious and most expensive spices in the world, is grown primarily in India, Spain and Iran. Since my family conveniently keeps a year-round stock of imported saffron (powdered and dissolved) in the house, it was easy to gather up the supplies I needed to turn my craving into something quite tangible, in just under 3 hours.

The following recipe is no secret. Sholeh Zard is made many different ways; however my family and I choose to prepare it in the traditional, simple form. Don’t let the time behind the hot stove deter you from making this during summer. A bonus for enduring the heat and watching over the pudding will be a nice, steamy facial. All kidding aside, I believe you’ll find this experiment with saffron to be quite rewarding as the flavor is unlike most desserts you may have had in the past. You will have a new appreciation for the mother of all spices after you try the famous Sholeh Zard.

Sholeh Zard
Recipe by Nahal Lovessert
Yield: 6-8 Servings


1 cup short grain rice (favorite brand: Nasim)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup corn oil
½ cup rose water
2 teaspoons ground saffron

Optional (for garnish):
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons ground pistachios
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


1) Wash 1 cup of short grain rice. Rinse and drain the rice several times until the water runs clear. Add the rice to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.

2) Add 7-8 cups of water into the pot of rice and partially cover with a lid. Bring the rice to a boil over medium heat, occasionally skimming the foam off the top.

3) Once your rice is soft and boiling (approximately 30 minutes), add 1 cup of sugar and stir gently to dissolve. Add an additional 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Keep the rice partially covered and continue to cook over a medium-low heat for approximately 20 more minutes. Stir occasionally.

4) Gather ¼ cup of corn oil, ½ cup of rose water, and 2 teaspoons of dissolved ground saffron threads. Pour this into the rice and stir thoroughly to combine (and watch all the flavors dance with one another!) Continue to cook, partially-covered, for another 20 minutes over low heat.

5) Remove the lid and stir well. The mixture should start to look like a thick pudding-like cream; all the water should be boiled out at this point. Feel free to add more saffron to taste*. The more saffron you add the richer the flavor and color of the pudding will be.

Pudding cooking

6) Stir the ingredients well and continue cooking over medium-low heat until a pudding-like texture develops (approximately 30 minutes).

7) Once thickened, remove the pot from the stove and pour the Sholeh Zard into a large, shallow plate and let it cool for 30 minutes at room temperature**. Once the top has dried into a thin, yet hard, layer you can decorate with cinnamon and pistachios! Place the plate in the refrigerator and continue chilling until the pudding has transformed into a jello-like consistency.

*Optional Mix-in: You may add slivered almonds at this point if you choose.

**Optional serving styles: The pudding also tastes great warm (right after it’s done cooking). For a stiffer pudding you can also bake it in a muffin pan after removing it from the stove. Spray the muffin pan with non-stick baking spray and bake at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes.

Baked Sholeh Zard

You may now serve the tastiest Sholeh Zard to your guests. I always like to serve mine with a nice cup of tea. Enjoy!


Ellie says on August 31st, 2005 at 11:49 pm:

YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM sounds sooo tasty.. mouth watering description, i can’t wait to try this dessert. thanks a bunch Nahal lovessert!!

Kristin says on September 1st, 2005 at 12:36 am:

I can’t wait to try this Nahal! Looks great

Lisa says on September 1st, 2005 at 12:45 am:

It looks really good!!! Good job Nahal “Lovessert” =)

dina says on September 1st, 2005 at 11:16 am:

looks yuummmy i want to eat it right now

ardy says on September 1st, 2005 at 11:19 am:

I, Love dessert. I definetly try to make this dessert from your receipe.

holly says on September 1st, 2005 at 12:47 pm:

Sounds fabulous…but rather than me slaving away over a hot stove, im thinking that perhaps you should just have a sholeh zard inspired party and make it for me :P ill even sport yellow attire for the event … just let me know the time and place HEHEHE!! All jokes aside, sounds amazing and congratz Im proud of you(in a supportive non condescending way)

Paul says on September 1st, 2005 at 12:55 pm:

Yeah…I want some…

dana says on September 1st, 2005 at 1:40 pm:

WOW! sounds fantastic! have any samples?

Haydeh says on September 1st, 2005 at 4:25 pm:

It looks soooo tasty. I tried your receipe and it turned out soooo good. I am eating shole zard right now:):):)mmmmmmm:). Good job Nahal!lovessert!

shauna says on September 1st, 2005 at 7:32 pm:

Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to try this. Any unusual, gluten-free dessert that comes this highly recommended is something I have to put on my list. (And I could use that facial right now.)

Shab Azma says on September 1st, 2005 at 11:59 pm:

i love your reciepe…I am going to make it asap cause I sure love shole zard!!! Merci aziz.

JAYmanV says on September 2nd, 2005 at 12:12 am:

ohh baby! i cant wait!

Nahal says on September 2nd, 2005 at 11:14 am:

Thanks everyone for the comments, how ’bout a sholeh zard party at my house this weekend? Yellow regalia is a ticket in. :)

Peyv says on September 2nd, 2005 at 8:43 pm:

A talented cook as well…nahal is the next triple treat. keep up the great work and I want to buy both your cook book and cd. HOLLA!!

Sa'id Poosti says on September 6th, 2005 at 12:21 pm:

I have always had this cook for me, now that I have your recipe I’ll try it myself….and I loved the way you wrote your recipe

stephanie says on September 6th, 2005 at 1:11 pm:

yummy !! im going to try and make this lovely desert !!!

ShiShi says on September 9th, 2005 at 1:47 am:

I love this great Sholeh-Zard. My mom always cooked it for us. I think you got it girl! Good job. Your mom raised a good cook:)

Jamie says on December 13th, 2005 at 10:23 pm:

I love this i had it before and it is the best! i am iranian to! i have one question if u r really iranian wahat language do speak farsi or persian? (trick q if u don’t know)

Jamie says on December 13th, 2005 at 10:23 pm:

i had this before and it was the best!

Nina says on April 26th, 2006 at 3:41 pm:

I am writing to ask if I can use your picture of the Sholeh Zard with the star design on top for a school project?

Davood says on January 29th, 2008 at 3:20 pm:

Hey … i just cooked Sholeh-Zard and i think i succeed it . Tasty with Iranian Saffron and Golaab .I like it chilled so won’t take long to cool off . Hope you all could taste it. (:

yasaman says on December 4th, 2008 at 12:55 pm:

eyval baba!shoma kheili bahali be khoda!

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Noush says on February 19th, 2011 at 3:44 am:

The best I tried your receipe unlike the others it is not complicated I love it.
Mine turned out better than the ones’ I have had so far, thanks.

Noush says on February 19th, 2011 at 3:48 am:

Do you have a cookbook??

Craig says on June 29th, 2011 at 7:28 pm:

So where do you find rose-water? Or do you make your own?

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Lovescool is the documentation of a journey to discover what sweet things are out there, why people love them so much, and perhaps what it takes to start something new.

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An interest, that turned into a blog, that turned into a career. Kelli Bernard is now the owner and baker of Amai Tea & Bake House.

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