Sweet saffron rice recipe from Lucknow, North India

Rice is considered more auspicious than wheat as a cereal, probably because it's recorded consumption goes back longer. Hence rice is an integral part of all our pujas; annaprashaan in many communities is kheer.

It was really nice making meethe chawal last week at home probably after some 10 years. Turned out great.

Sweet saffron rice from Lucknow kitchen


1 cup rice soaked well (about 30 minutes)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup ghee
1 tspn saffron
A handful of raisins and almonds (soaked, peeled, chopped)


Soak the rice for at least half an hour. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Caramelise the sugar till it turns golden. Keep the heat slow, keep stirring constantly. (Should take about five minutes and is just such a pretty sight to see the colour and texture change so quickly.)

Add the rice and 2 cups water. The ladle gets stuck, so let it be. Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes on slow heat. As the rice gets cooked, the ladle loosens on its own and comes out easily. When its almost done stir in saffron dissolved in about 1/3 cup water. When it's done add chopped almonds and raisins.

Enjoy. This looks golden, smells great, and tastes wonderful. The only thing to be careful about is to keep the heat slow while caramelising. We want it golden, but overdo it by just a few seconds and the sugar burns and makes it bitter.

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Ayurvedically speaking, this dessert is good to pacify high vata and pitta :-)

This sweet saffron rice or Kesari chawal is a popular item for offering deities in temples and homes.

Sumita Thapar
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