Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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The beloved is rice, the lover is sugar;
May God soon lead them to union!
What we seek exists on every lip —
Come, drink the sweet cup of companionship.
'Ali Haidar
Shollehzard or Kheer
Yellow Rice Pudding
In Iran and India, this pudding is prepared in large quantities for the enjoyment of family, friends and the community on most holidays. In Iran, it is especially associated with Arba'ain, the fortieth day after the martyrdom of Husayn, and is also a popular "pledge" dish, prepared annually in gratitude for answered prayers.
Total time: 4+ hours
Cooking time: 1-¼ hours
Chilling: 3+ hours
1-½ cups uncooked rice
12 cups water
6 cups sugar
6 tbsp. sweet butter
½ cup blanched and slivered almonds
¾ cup golden raisins (optional)
¼ tsp. saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp. water
1-½ tsp. cardamom
4 tbsp. (¼ cup) rosewater
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. blanched and slivered almonds
1 tbsp. blanched and slivered pistachios

Rinse the rice several times under cold running water. Pour 12 cups of water into a large pot, add the rice and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, until the rice is very soft. Check the pot occasionally, adding more water if needed.

Stir in the sugar and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring as needed to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the butter, almonds, raisins (if desired), saffron, cardamom and rosewater, stir well, cover the pot and continue to cook for 20 minutes more, until the mixture has thickened into a pudding.

Turn the pudding into a large serving dish and garnish with the cinnamon, almonds and pistachios. Chill for several hours before serving.