Sweet Rice/Meethi Chawal/Zarda

Sweet rice or meethi chawal is a traditional sweet dish of Indian subcontinent made with boiled rice, sugar, dry fruits and saffron. This dish is also known as zarda. The name”Zarda” comes from a Persian word “zard” meaning “yellow”, as the colour of the dish is bright yellow .

The dish is typically served as a dessert after the meal or perhaps during the meal in special occasions like Basant Panchami. Generally, the dish has a bright yellow in colour with its appearance due to the use of saffron.

Basant panchami and meethi chawal

Basant Panchami marks the beginning of spring season. It is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati in Hindu religion as Goddess Saraswati is fond of the yellow color. Yellow colored dresses are worn on this day and dishes of yellow color are offered and served as prasad and sweet yellow rice recipe is the most popular one.

About my recipe

Though traditionally orange and khoya/dried milk is not used in sweet rice, I added orange juice and orange zest to have some citrus flavour to my sweet rice. And for richness,I added some homemade khoya which really enhances the entire dish to next level. For the rich yellow colour, saffron is used but sometimes yellow food colour is also added to enhance colour.I don’t like to use food colour,so used a pinch of turmeric powder to enhance colour.

Detailed recipe

  • Preparation time: 15 min
  • Cooking time: 30 min
  • Serves: 4-5
  • Difficulty level: easy

Ingredients of meethi chawal

  • 1 cup long grain Basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoon+1 teaspoon Ghee
  • 2-3 Cardamom pods
  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 1 small piece of Cinnamon
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup fresh Orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon Orange zest
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup assorted dry fruits and nuts(I used cashew, walnuts, sultanas, pistachios and cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup homemade Khoya (dried milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of saffron strands
  • 1 pinch of Salt
  • Some dried rose petals to garnish

Ingredients of homemade Khoya

  • 1/4 cup full fat Milk
  • 1/2 cup Milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee

Preparation to make khoya

To a non stick pan heat 1/4 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of ghee.

When ghee melts completely, add in milk powder in batches.

Stir continually in medium low heat so that no lump forms.

Stir and cook until the mixture thickens and starts leaving from the bottom and sides.

When the mixture becomes a soft lump removes from heat. Homemade instant khoya is ready now. It will be harden after cooling.

Preparation to make meethi chawal/sweet rice

Wash basmati rice nicely and then soak them in plenty of water for atleast 30 minutes.

Soak saffron strands in 2 tablespoon of warm water and set aside.

Place all the ingredients ready before starting cooking process.

Place a large saucepan to high heat and add in sufficient water.

Also add in 2-3 cardamom, 3-4 cloves, a small piece of cinnamon and a bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of ghee.

Bring the water  to rolling boil and then add in the soaked rice(drained).

When the rice is cooked about 90% , drain to a colander. Set aside.

Place a heavy bottomed pot to stove top and heat 2 tablespoon of ghee.

To the melted ghee, add in assorted nuts and fry for 2-3 minutes. I added chopped pistachios a little later as they are small in size.

Next add in brown sugar and freshly squeezed orange juice ,saffron water and a pinch of salt. Stir well in medium heat until sugar melts.

Also add in orange zest and a pinch of turmeric.Mix well.

Next add in drained rice and mix everything in light hand.

Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the lid and add in crumbled khoya. Cover and simmer for further 5 minutes.

Remove from heat . Set aside for 5 minutes and then fluff the rice lightly.

Delicious and aromatic yellow coloured sweet rice/meethi chawal/zarda is ready now to enjoy. For garnishing I sprinkled some dry rose patels. It’s purely optional to use.


Long grain white basmati rice is the best for this recipe.

Cooking rice is very important part of the recipe. Be sure to cook rice about 90% only. If you cook rice completely before draining, later rice may be mushy after final cooking and that will ruin the texture of the dish.

You can use coconut flakes also in this recipe. Toast some thin coconut flakes in ghee along with dry fruits to enhance taste.

Kewra or rose water can also be used. If you don’t have saffron, then use yellow food colour and for flavouring use rose or kewra water.

If you don’t like to use food colour, use turmeric powder but use very little amount, otherwise turmeric flavour will overpowered the dish which we don’t want.

I used brown sugar to sweeten the rice, you can use regular sugar or even honey to your sweet rice.

Recipe video

One Comment Add yours

  1. Suman Wadhwa says:

    Outstanding recipe. Beautiful presentation 💞💞


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