Persian Saffron Pudding – Exotic Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan Dessert Recipe with Saffron, Pistachios and Orange Blossom Syrup
I’m sharing this vibrant golden pudding in honor of my dear friend Catherine McCord and her “virtual baby shower!” Catherine’s blog Weelicious is the go-to resource for healthy, kid-friendly recipes. I always recommend her two cookbooks, Weelicious and Weelicious Lunches, when people ask me for recipes that kids will enjoy. I was so excited to hear about Catherine’s surprise online baby shower, especially when I heard the theme was “Naturally Colorful.” A rainbow of recipes without a hint of food coloring seemed like a perfect way to celebrate Catherine and her healthy approach to family friendly meals. Catherine is one of the kindest, most special people I know. She’s an incredible mother and she has a heart of gold. What a perfect opportunity to share this delicious golden Persian Saffron Pudding. I’ve been keeping this one under wraps, and I’m excited to finally share it in honor of sweet Catherine and her new baby!
This exotic golden dessert is a fusion of two traditional Persian treats– sholeh-zard, a sweet rice pudding made with saffron and other spices, and fereni dagh, a smooth, sweet pudding made with rice flour, rosewater and spices. Combining the flavors of sholeh-zard with the smooth texture of fereni dagh produces an absolutely lovely dessert. The addition of a floral orange blossom syrup really puts it over the top. Floral waters are well suited to sweet desserts and can really add a special essence; my Pistachio Rose Blondies with browned butter are my most-requested homemade dessert. This pudding runs a close second; people absolutely love it! I particularly appreciate how versatile this dessert is; it suits a variety of dietary restrictions due to the fact that it is gluten free, dairy free and vegan. It’s also great for dinner parties; make it ahead and chill it, then serve without any fuss. Easy, colorful and delicious… what’s not to love?
Congratulations, Catherine! Can’t wait to meet the lucky little one. Check out all of the other colorful contributions to Catherine’s virtual baby shower from my friends below!
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Beauty shots and styling by Bethany Nauert.
- 3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup water, plus 1/4 cup to bloom spices
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole star anise
- 12 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp saffron - use a good quality, expensive saffron; Iranian or Spanish is best. The cheap stuff has no flavor!
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 3/4 tsp salt
Orange Blossom Syrup Ingredients
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp orange blossom water
- Shelled pistachios, garnish
- Black or golden raisins, garnish
- Saffron threads, optional garnish (same note as above)
You will also need
- Medium saucepan, small bowl, mesh strainer, large mixing bowl, small saucepan, dessert dishes
- To make the pudding: In a small dish, combine the cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods, saffron and turmeric and cover with 1/4 cup hot water to bloom the spices.
- In a medium saucepan combine coconut milk, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and slowly whisk in the rice flour until smooth.
- Add the dish of spices and stir until thoroughly combined. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl. Push through with a spoon or spatula to remove any whole spices.
- Divide pudding evenly between 4-6 dishes and refrigerate to cool before serving.
- To make orange blossom syrup: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The syrup will thicken upon standing.
- To assemble, top the pudding with a few pistachios and raisins, then drizzle with the orange blossom syrup. If you're feeling extra fancy you can also garnish with a few saffron threads.
Here are the other tasty contributions to Catherine’s virtual baby shower!
Mini Strawberry Rosewater Pavlovas from Beard and Bonnet
Pink Lemonade Thumbprint Cookies from Fifteen Spatulas
Skillet Cherry Pie from FoodieCrush
Roasted Blueberry and Lemony Yogurt Popsicles from Tasty Yummies
Frozen Lemonade with Rose Water from The Lemon Bowl
Grilled Carrots with Mint Almond Pesto from Heather Christo
S’more Brownies from What’s Gaby Cooking
Jicama Pops from ¡Hola! Jalapeño
Roasted Broccoli Pesto on Pumpernickel from Bev Cooks
Farmer’s Market Vietnamese Steak Salad from Alex T Cooks
Peachy Pineapple Green Smoothie from 100 Days of Real Food
Rainbow Smoothie from Daisy At Home
Chocolate Beet Cake from I Am Baker
Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting from Deliciously Organic