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Zarda in Instant Pot

Zarda is a sweet rice dessert cooked variously in countries like Iran, Turkey, India and other parts of South Asia. With a base of basmati rice, it uses saffron, orange zest and dry fruits for flavor. The end result is a jewel toned dish that is as inviting as it is delicious.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, international
Keyword: dessert, meethe chawal, zarda
Servings: 6 people
Author: Kanika Samra


  • Instant pot
  • Colander
  • Grater
  • Mortar Pestle or food processor


  • 1/2 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Saffron more for garnish
  • 1 tsp Orange zest Any orange, Navel or Mandarins work well
  • 3-4 tbsp Ghee
  • 5-6 pods Cardamom Seeds removed and ground
  • 2 pieces Cinnamon, 1 inch
  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 1/2 cup Jaggery or sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Water for syrup More for rice
  • 1/4 cup Assorted nuts Almonds and cashews
  • 1/4 cup Golden raisins


  • Wash and soak rice and raisins in separate bowls. Leave the raisins to plump up in water until needed later in the recipe.
  • Chop the dry nuts. I used almonds and cashews. I prefer not to fry them. You can fry them in ghee and keep until needed for garnish at the end.
  • Add the rice with plenty of water to your instant pot. I used 2 cups of water for 1/2 a cup of rice. Add salt and close the instant pot lid with vent sealed. Set it to pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
  • While the rice is cooking, separate seeds from cardamom pods and pound them into a grainy powder. Zest an orange or mandarin to get about 1 tsp of zest.
  • When the pressure cook time is over, quick release pressure and open the lid. Be careful when you do this to avoid any burns from the steam. Drain rice in a colander or sieve.
  • Add orange zest and two to three pinches of saffron to the rice. Gently mix, with a tossing motion. Let the rice sit while you move on to make the jaggery syrup.
  • Turn on the instant pot to sauté mode, normal for 10 minutes. Then, add about 2 tbsp of ghee. Roast the spices in ghee until fragrant. Next, add jaggery and water. Cover with a glass lid, and cook until all the jaggery has dissolved. I find it useful to break up jaggery as it softens in water.
  • Once all the jaggery has dissolved and syrup looks like it is starting to thicken, take it off the heat. Pour in a bowl and keep it ready for the finally layering of all ingredients.
  • Put the pot insert back and add a tablespoon of ghee to it. Keep it on sauté mode at low for 2 minutes while you layer all the ingredients. Add a layer of rice and gently spread to cover the base. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of syrup on top of it followed by some raisins. Squeeze the water out of raisins before adding. Repeat this until all the rice has been used. Usually with a recipe for 1/2 a cup of rice, you’ll get two layers.
  • Put the lid back on with the vent on sealing position and Steam for 1 minute. Quick release the pressure and open the lid. Be careful, as always! Using a spatula or a slotted spoon, gently mix the rice and let them sit for a minute or two before turning out in a serving platter or bowl.



There is a temptation to use up all the syrup. But resist it. Use 3-4 tablespoons per layer. Too much moisture will give you mushy rice.