Sweet yellow rice

Madhur Jaffreys golden saffron rice is known in India as meetha pullao - it is bursting with warming spices, sweet sultanas and soft almonds
By Madhur Jaffrey
Sweet yellow rice
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus 4 hr soaking and standing
  • Effort: easy


  • ½ tsp saffron strands
  • 2 tbsp whole milk, warmed
  • 200 g basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp liquid yellow food colouring
  • 15 g slivered almonds, plus more to serve
  • 1 tbsp sultanas, plus more to serve
  • 90 g caster sugar, or to taste
  • 1 sheet silver leaf, known as 'vark' in Indian grocers (optional)


1. Put the saffron in a small, heavy-based frying pan set over a medium heat. Stir it about until the threads turn a few shades darker.

2. Put the milk in a cup and crumble in the saffron, then set aside for three hours.

3. Wash the rice in several changes of water, then drain. Leave it to soak in 1.2 litres of water for 30 minutes. Drain and leave in the colander for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Heat the ghee in a wide, heavy-based, flame and ovenproof pan over a medium heat. When its hot, put in the cardamom and cinnamon and stir for few seconds.

5. Now put in the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for about three minutes, reducing the heat slightly if it begins to catch.

6. Add 325ml of water, the food colouring and ½ teaspoon of salt. If you reduced the heat, increase it back to medium and gently stir the rice until all the water is absorbed.

7. Pour in the saffron milk and stir in the almonds, sultanas and sugar. Cover very tightly with foil and then the lid and put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.

8. Remove the rice from the oven and stir, removing the cardamom and cinnamon as you do so. Spoon into a warmed serving dish and gently arrange some silver leaf on the top.

9. Sprinkle with the extra sultanas and almonds to serve.

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