Poached Pears Sholeh Zard

February 10, 2021 • Dessert, GF, Persian, Plant-based
Poached Pears Sholeh Zard

I’ve revisited my favorite childhood Persian dessert, Sholeh Zard. My mom used to prepare it for my birthday, instead of the traditional cake, giving the task of writing my name on it (with cinnamon) to my dad. I also remember going to the restaurant the first time I visited Iran and ordering two Sholeh Zard instead of a proper meal. It comforts me.

Sholeh Zard is a saffron rice pudding, originally served for religious ceremonies and the New Year, but now eaten all year round. People prepare large amounts of it and share it with their family, friends, neighbours. A sweet gesture showing that they are there for one another. Water is used instead of milk, which you find in traditional rice puddings. The creamy texture is due to a long cooking time. I love to have a bowl for breakfast, or have it as a dessert in a smaller portion.

I’ve tried many times to prepare it for non Persian friends but it wasn’t a success. I assumed the taste was unusual for them. So I made my own version of it, merging my Persian and European background, adding a layer of poached pears at the bottom. It was a success!


Serves 8 — Cooking time: 1h45

For the Sholeh Zard: 

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 7 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup sugar (Iranian
    people put 2 but I don’t
    like it when too sweet)
  • 1/2 cup silvered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp of ground saffron
    dissolved in2 tbsp of hot water
  • 1/4 cup rosewater
    (or more to tatse)


For the poached pears:

  • 4 William pears
  • 100g filtered water
  • 200g sugar
  • 200g white wine
  • 60g lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cardamom cloves crushed
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 4g salt


For the Sholeh Zard:

Wash the rice, changing the water several times. Drain.

In a large sauce pan combine the the rice and filtered water. Bring to boil, skimming the foam as it rises. Cover and simmer over low/medium heat stirring occasionally for 50 minutes until the rice gets quite soft.

Add the sugar, keep stirring until it dissolves. Add the saffron water, rose water and the silvered almonds. Stir well and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for another 50 minutes until you end up with a thick smooth pudding.

If you prepare it on its own, pour into bowls, leave it to cool. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top and keep refrigerated. The pudding will thicken up once cold.

For the poached pears:

Peel your pears, removing the center bit and the stems. Cut them in 4.

Add all the ingredients, except the pears, to a medium/large pan and bring to boil.

Bring to a simmer and add the pears, covering them with a cartouche until tender. They should turn a beautiful saffron colour.

Remove the pears and reduce the liquid to make a syrup by setting the heat to low.


For each individual pot, cut 2 quarters of pears in smaller pieces and place them at the bottom.

Then add a few silvered pistachios and lemon zest, and cover with a bit of syrup.

Pour some pudding to cover it and garnish with cinnamon, silvered pistachios and almonds, and some lemon zest.

Leave it to cool, and let it set in the fridge.

Nush-e jan! (Enjoy!)