Sholdezard (‘yellow pudding’) is an Iranian dessert which is made of rice, sugar and saffron, cooked over heat. Although it is common to make it in special occasions such as Ramadan, Sholezard could be served as a dessert after the main dish or as a sophisticated snack.
In the past, Sholezard was considered a fancy dish which was reserved for occasions such as New Year Eve. Nowadays, Sholezard is served more commonly and is mostly prepared for Nazri (charity food which is cooked in religious occasions). For this reason, it is decorated with religious symbols and names using cinnamon, almonds and pistachios.
After preparation, Sholezard could be served hot or cold. Sholezard tastes richer and sweeter if it is hot, but it is also delicious when served cold. Usually, people use rose water for a more pleasant fragrant. Some restaurants serve Sholezard as dessert, so make sure to ask for it.
Halva, Sweet Taste of Tradition
Halva is a sweet dish common in the Middle East and North Africa which could be both the main dish and a dessert. Apparently, the first known recipe for Halva goes back to 13th century, to an Arabic book named “The Book of Dishes”.Sweet Saffron Pudding
Although Halva could be made by nuts and butter, it is mostly a flour-based dish. This kind of Halva looks like a soft paste, its color ranging from orange to dark brown, and has a sweet taste. To prepare this dish, the mixture of flour, oil and syrup is stirred on the oven until it becomes a sticky paste.
In the past, Halva was a common dish for the people. These days, it has turned into a delicacy related to specific occasions. Halva –which is decorated with almonds, pistachios and ground coconut powder- is usually served in funerals or religious ceremonies. Iranian people favor darker colors of Halva, since it means that the flour is thoroughly cooked. You could also use coffee or chocolate powder for a richer taste.
- In northern parts of Iran, Halva is made with rice flour and honey and is called ‘honey halva’. Also, Halva could be used as the base of other confectionaries. For example, Ranginak is a sweet traditional dessert found in the southern part of Iran, made of Halva poured over dates. Or Halva Loz which uses a kind of honey Halva as the sweetener.Sweet Saffron Pudding
- Another variety of Halva is Kachi. The ingredients are the same, but Kachi is usually runnier and sweeter with a light color. Many different spices are used in Kachi, making it one of the most nutritious meals possible. Traditionally, Kachi was prepared for young mothers who nurse.
- Halva Ardeh is another variety which instead of flour, uses the paste of sesame seeds, mixed with sugar or honey and decorated with almonds and pistachios. Halva Ardeh is not exactly a dessert and is mostly served alongside cheese and butter for breakfast. According to some stories, Shah Abbass from Safavid dynasty was looking for a nutritious staple for his soldiers which could be carried easily and eaten without any preparation. Accordingly, Sheikh Bahaei, the genius scholar living at that time, invented Halva Ardeh with the help of confectioners. It is interesting to know that some countries such as Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Lebanon have similar dishes made of sesame paste.
Shir Berenj, Pudding of the Kings
Rice Pudding or ‘Shir Berenj’ is a dish consisting of rice and milk. It is made of rice cooked with water and milk, then served alongside a sweetener such as sugar or honey. Different forms of Rice Pudding could be found in several countries all over the world. Despite other countries which have adopted this dish from China, ‘Shir Berenj’ is local to Iran. Even Shahname mentions it as ‘shir-ba’, meaning the milk potage. Sweet Saffron Pudding
In essence, Rice Pudding is a kind of Ferni (simple pudding), only instead of wheat or rice flour, the rice itself is cooked. In Iran, Rice Pudding is usually served for breakfast and dessert or during Ramadan. Similar to Sholezard, it could be served hot or cold and one can use as much sugar as one desires.Sweet Saffron Pudding