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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.
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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.
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