Saffron- and rose-scented rice pudding


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

Even if rice pudding does not usually appeal to you, do not dismiss this one! It is quite different from the rice pudding made in the Western world. The richness of saffron, the fragrance imparted by the cardamom, nutmeg and rose water, and the crunchiness of the toasted nuts, make this pudding pure ambrosia. Serve Pal Payasam on its own, or team it with a fresh fruit, such as mango, to complement the delicate flavours.


  • a good pinch of saffron threads, pounded
  • 1.2 litres/2 pints/5 cups full-fat (whole) milk
  • 25 g/1 oz/2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 75 g/3 oz/ cup basmati rice, washed
  • 30–45ml/2–3 tbsp granulated (white) sugar
  • 25 g/1 oz broken cashew nut pieces (optional)
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp double (heavy) cream
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp rose water
  • a few fresh rose petals, washed, to garnish


  1. Soak the saffron in the milk and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.

  2. Melt the ghee or butter gently in a pan over a low heat and add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves. Let them sizzle for 25–30 seconds.

  3. Add the rice, the saffron-flavoured milk and the saffron. Bring this to the boil and reduce the heat to low.

  4. Add the sugar and cashew nuts. Let the mixture bubble gently for 45–50 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, then add the cream and rose water.

  5. Serve in pretty ice cream dishes or bowls, garnished with the rose petals.

Per portion Energy 445kcal/1852kJ; Protein 12.5g; Carbohydrate 42.6g, of which sugars 26.8g; Fat 26g, of which saturates 14.6g; Cholesterol 71mg; Calcium 363mg; Fibre 0.2g; Sodium 235mg.