Instant Pot Meethe Chawal (Zarda Pulao)


This recipe for meethe chawal (also known as zarda pulao) is a sweet rice dessert that’s aromatic and delicious! This sweet saffron fruit and nut rice is a popular Indian and Pakistani dessert often served for special occasions such as weddings, Diwali, Eid.

Instant Pot Meethe Chawal

What is Meethe Chawal?

Meethe chawal is a sweet rice pilaf speckled with fruit and nuts.

This is my mom’s signature dessert – she makes this sweet dish for almost every special occasion and has done so for as long as I can remember. Everyone who tries her meethe chawal raves about it so I’m sure you’ll love this dessert! Today I’m sharing my mom’s famous meethe chawal recipe – adapted for the instant pot making it even easier to make!

My family’s recipe calls for spices like floral green cardamom, smoky black cardamom, sweet cinnamon, and fragrant cloves and saffron. It also calls for pineapple, shredded coconut, raisins, and nuts.

You can easily make different variations of this rice: try garnishing it with sweet (canned) mandarin! Or use different nuts! I prefer pistachios for both the flavor and the pop of color it adds to this rice but cashews or sliced almonds work great too!

A Dessert with Two Names: Meethe Chawal & Zarda Pulao

This sweet rice dish is known by two names: in Hindi this dish is called meethe chawal which means “sweet rice” and in Urdu this dish is called zarda pulao which means “yellow rice.”

Typically yellow food coloring is added to this dessert to give the dish a brighter yellow hue so feel free to add that if you’d like. I prefer making this without food dye and so my rice only has a faint yellow hue thanks to the saffron.

Instant Pot Meethe Chawal

This sweet pulao is a recipe straight out of my cookbook, Indian Food Under Pressure. One of my blog readers left me a book review on amazon and this is how she described this dish: “The rice dessert smells like Christmas and tastes like love.” I love that description so much because this really is a special occasion dessert that tastes like love.

I hope you make and love this festive and fragrant sweet rice pilaf!

Instant Pot Meethe Chawal

Instant Pot Meethe Chawal (Zarda Pulao)

Instant Pot Meethe Chawal

Instant Pot Meethe Chawal (Zarda Pulao)

This sweetly spiced saffron and cardamom flavored rice is a well- known Punjabi dessert. While my mom makes a lot of different desserts, I always think of meethe chawal as her signature dish. She has been making this sweetly spiced pulao on special occasions for as long as I can remember and it is always a hit with guests. This dish is traditionally yellow in color and while many cooks choose to add yellow food coloring to their meethe chawal for presentation purposes, I always leave it out. Feel free to add it though if you’d like! For a variation to this dish, try topping the rice with sweet (canned) mandarins.
5 from 5 reviews
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  • 2 cups basmati rice soaked for 1 hour
  • 2 tablespoons ghee

Whole Spices

Add Later

  • 2 cups ripe pineapple chunks or 1 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 cup frozen grated coconut*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios or nuts of choice garnish


  • Soak the basmati rice in cold water for 1 hour. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Press the sauté button, then add the ghee. Once the ghee melts, add the whole spices to the pot. As soon as the spices begin to sizzle, add the raisins and give them a stir, then add the rice, water and saffron.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 7 minutes at high pressure.
  • Open the valve to quick release any remaining pressure.
  • Add the pineapple chunks, grated coconut, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water and mix well. Carefully pour the sugar on top of the rice, making sure it doesn’t get on the edges of the steel pot. Do not mix the sugar into the rice.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 1 minute at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • Mix well, garnish with chopped pistachios and serve.


  • *Find frozen unsweetened grated coconut at your local Indian grocery store.
  • Try topping it with canned mandarins for a variation.
  • You can use yellow food coloring if you’d like to make it look more yellow.
  • You can soak the saffron in a bit of milk or water before adding it to the rice if you prefer. I’ve found the steam from pressure cooking also helps impart color.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Emma says

    5 stars
    Ashley, this is my favorite dessert ever! I am making it again today. I always use canned mandarins in their own juice, and use the juice to replace some of the water. I only add about half the sugar, just enough to cover the rice in my 3 qt instant pot. The rice comes out perfect. Delicious!

  2. Anya Singh says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley,

    Great recipe as always! It honestly brought back memories of my mum making meetha pulao on special occasions. I was curious if the measurements for the sugar were right though, we added 1.5 cups of sugar according to the recipe and it felt too sweet. Regardless, we’ll be making it again because the family ADORED it!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Anya! I’m so glad you made and liked this! And yes, lol that sugar measurement is right – I know it’s a lot but I felt like the rice needed that much sugar to really feel like a dessert… that said if you think it’s too sweet feel free to reduce the sugar! Glad your family liked it 🙂

  3. Noory says

    Can I make this recipe without fruit? I just made your moong dal halwa (which was wonderful) and wanted to make something for my Mom. She’s a little picky and doesn’t want any fruit. Can you suggest any changes to your recipe compensate for no fruit?

  4. Noory says

    I was wondering if this can be made without the fruit? My Mom is very picky and doesn’t want any fruit. I literally just made your Moong Dal Halwa an hour ago which was wonderful. So I thought I would make her meethe chawal that she loves. Can you suggest any changes to make up for no fruit in your recipe?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Jennifer, I haven’t tried it with maple syrup but my guess would be no – I think the sugar is important to getting the right texture for this dish. If you try though, let me know how it goes!

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