Zarda (food)

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Course Dessert
Place of origin Pakistan, India
Region or state South Asia
Main ingredients Rice, raisins, cardamom, saffron, pistachios or almonds
Variations Mutanjan
Food energy
(per serving)
400-600 kcal (-2112 kJ)
Cookbook: Zarda  Media: Zarda

Zarda Urdu: زردہ‎) is a traditional South Asian sweet dish, made by boiling rice with (orange) food coloring, milk and sugar, and flavoured with cardamoms, raisins, saffron, pistachios or almonds. The name Zarda comes from Persian and Urdu word 'zard' زرد meaning 'yellow', hence named since the food coloring added to the rice gives it a yellow color. Zarda is typically served after a meal. In South Asia, zarda was and still remains a popular dessert on weddings.

Often in Pakistan, instead of yellow food coloring, multiple food colorings are added so the rice grains are of multiple colors. Additionally, khoya, candied fruits (murabba) and nuts are an essential part of zarda made at auspicious occasions.

Dating back to the mughal era, zarda had a variation with an addition of small fried meat pieces called 'Mutanjan'. This dish was a favourite of Emporer Shahjahan and was often made on his request. This rice dish was made for guests at special banquets.

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