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How to make sweet saffron rice on Vasant Panchami?

This sweet delicacy is a perfect festive treat beautifully hued in yellow and rendering a pleasant aroma all around

Deepa Gupta | New Delhi |

Preparing yellow-hued sweet rice loaded with dry fruits and offering it to Goddess Saraswati is considered to be very auspicious on Vasant Panchami day. This festival will be celebrated on Wednesday, 29 January 2020. The festival is celebrated in honour of Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning who bequeaths the greatest wealth to humanity, the wealth of knowledge. Yellow is the dominant colour of this festival as it signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. The mustard fields in North India bloom during the spring season giving a yellow coat to nature. Thus, people wear yellow-coloured clothes and offer yellow-hued sweet dishes to the goddess as naivedyam (prasad).

Yellow-coloured sweet rice is a traditional delicacy that is prepared on the auspicious occasion of Vasant Panchami. Also known as ‘kesari meethe chawal’, this sweet dish is a real treat hard to miss. It is usually prepared in Punjabi households as one of their sweet specialities on special occasions. The dish contains the hue of saffron, the aroma of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, the sweetness of sugar syrup and richness of cashew nuts, almonds, dry coconut and raisins. Basmati rice, sugar and pure ghee are the key ingredients to make this delicacy. Green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon are added to make the dish fragrant and flavourful. Dry fruits make it even more tasty and rich.

Here is the recipe:

Serves: 3

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients

Long grain basmati rice: 1 cup

Sugar: ¾ cup

Pure ghee: 5 tbsp

Saffron strands: 25-30

Cashew nuts: 20

Almonds: 15

Raisins: 20

Dry coconut: ½ cup (shredded)

Cardamom powder: ½ tsp

Green cardamom: 2

Cloves: 8

Cinnamon stick: 1

Milk: 1/3 cup

Method

Wash rice thoroughly five to six times. Soak them in plenty of water for 15 minutes. In the meantime, chop almonds and cashew nuts coarsely. Add saffron strands to one-third cup of milk and keep aside. Boil rice in an open pan adding eight cups of water and one tablespoon of ghee. Do not boil the rice fully. Instead, boil them 90 per cent. Stir rice at regular intervals while boiling. When a boil comes on high flame, turn the flame medium-low and cook the rice uncovered. Turn off the flame. Drain excess water. Collect the rice in a big strainer. Keep aside. Heat four tablespoons of ghee in a non-stick pan. Add green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom powder to it. Add sugar and two tablespoons of water. Keep stirring to dissolve the sugar on low flame. When sugar dissolves completely add the saffron milk and boiled rice. Give a good stir with the help of a fork and spatula. Add shredded coconut, cashew nuts, almonds and raisins. Mix well gently and cover the pan to let the rice cook fully on low flame for five minutes. After five minutes, open the pan, the moisture will dry away and the rice is ready to serve. Serve hot.

Tips to make perfect Meethe Chawal:

Use long-grain basmati rice to make the dish with a visual appeal.

Add little pure ghee while boiling the rice in an open pan. It will help in keeping all the rice grains separated.

Cook the dish in pure ghee only for the real authentic taste.

Yellow food colour cannot replace the aroma and flavour of saffron. So do not substitute saffron with yellow food colour.

The quantity of sugar added to the rice can be adjusted according to your taste.

Dry fruits are a must to be added in these sweet rice to give the delicacy the perfect richness, taste and visual charm.

This sweetened rice is a worth trying recipe. This dish can be served as a sweet dish after meals or as a meal itself.