Turkish Rice Dessert Flavored With Saffron

Safranlı zerde is a delicious Turkish pudding-like dessert made with rice, pine nuts and currants and flavored with saffron and rose water.

Elizabeth Taviloglu

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
657 Calories
12g Fat
132g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 657
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 29mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 132g 48%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 82g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 241mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Saffron, one of the most highly prized spices in the world, is used to add color and aroma to a delicious Turkish pudding-like dessert called 'safranlı zerde' (sah-FRAHN'-luh zeyr-DAY').

Many recipes for "zerde," like this one, also contain edible rose water to add yet another delicate flavor and aroma to the dish.

'Safranlı zerde' is a dessert that orginates from the areas surrounding the city of Konya, located in inner Anatolia and is a good example of regional Turkish cuisine. It's said to have been a favorite of the Ottomans and was prepared regularly in the Topkapı palace kitchens in Istanbul.

Today, 'zerde' can be found in many Turkish restaurants and dessert shops all over the country. It's also a favorite dessert served during the holy month of Ramadan.

'Zerde' is simple to prepare. Like many Turkish puddings, it's very nutritious and low in fat.

Serve your 'zerde' cold in decorative dessert bowls garnished with more currants and pine nuts. You can also use other toppings like coconut or ground nuts.


  • 4 1/4 cups water

  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 pinch saffron

  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric

  • 3 tablespoons rose water

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons dried currants, plus more for garnish

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, plus more for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Begin by washing the rice in a wire strainer under cold, running water for several minutes until the water runs clear. Once it's washed and drained, put the rice in a large saucepan. Add water to the pan to cover the rice about ½ inch. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook the rice for about 20 minutes.

  2. Put the 4 ½ cups water in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron and let it soak for about 15 minutes. After it softens, use the edge of a wooden spoon to crush the saffron and release the yellow color.

  3. Add the cooked rice, sugar and turmeric to the saffron and water and bring it to a boil. Add the rose water and cornstarch and cook, stirring continuously for about 20 minutes until the pudding thickens and becomes a clear yellow color.

  4. Turn off the heat and leave the pudding to cool in the pan about 10 minutes.

  5. Fill your dessert cups or a large serving bowl with the pudding. Let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours.

  6. Serve your 'zerde' cold. Garnish it with more pine nuts, and dried currants that have been soaked for a few minutes in hot water. You can also use other toppings like ground coconut, crushed pistachio nuts, and fresh pomegranate seeds.