Zafrani Pulao Recipe [Pressure Cooker Style]

Zafrani Pulao is a royal Mughalai delicacy, which seemed to have originated from the land of Hyderabad. Although many Hyderabadi rice dishes are somewhat spicy in taste, this one is quite delicately mild in its own way.

For those of you who don’t know, Zafran is an Urdu word for Saffron. And as you may have guessed it right, this pulao is basically made with the help of Saffron strands.

You can make this simple yet beautiful recipe in three styles i.e. plain pulao, veg & non-veg pulao. Traditionally, it is prepared in plain style, and that’s what I’m going to share with you.

For this recipe, you may serve cucumber raita, Mirchi ka Salan and roasted papad as accompaniments.

Preparation Tips

You just have to follow these two tips to get best results for Zafrani pulao.

Use soaked rice –

Soak some good quality of basmati rice in water after washing it thoroughly. You will need to soak it for at least 15 minutes. It helps getting perfect texture when cooked.

Dissolve saffron in milk –

Get warm milk in a small bowl and put saffron strands in it. Keep this bowl aside and let the strands dissolve in milk.

Now, check the recipe below and make it on any festive occasion. Your family members will love it!

Total Time – 30 minutes

Serves – 4 people


  • Onion – 1-1/2, medium sized, finely chopped
  • Green Cardamom – 3-4
  • Cinnamon Sticks – 1-2
  • Bay Leaf – 1
  • Cloves – 5-6
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Saffron Strands – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Basmati Rice – 2 cups, soaked in water for 15-20 minutes
  • Yogurt – 1 tablespoon
  • Ginger-Garlic Paste – 2 teaspoon
  • Red Chilli Powder – 2 teaspoon
  • Biryani Masala/Pulao Masala – 2 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Mint Leaves – 5-6
  • Coriander Leaves – 1 tablespoon, finely chopped
  • Cashews – 10-12, roughly chopped
  • Raisins – 5-6, roughly chopped
  • Ghee/Oil – 2 tablespoon
  • Milk – 4 tablespoon
  • Pomegranate Seeds – 2 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed


1. Heat some ghee or oil in pressure cooker on medium flame.

2. Add the cumin seeds, green cardamom, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and cloves in it and fry till you get mild aroma.

3. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.

4. Add the finely chopped onions and salt in it.

5. When onions turn slightly brown, add the red chilli powder, Pulao masala, yogurt, cashew nuts and almonds.

6. Let it cook for few minutes. Wait for sometime so that the oil starts leaving the edges.

7. Add the garam masala powder and raisins into it. Mix it well and add the soaked basmati rice in your gravy base. Mix again gently.

8. Pour enough water in the cooker for pressure cooking process. Increase the flame and cook rice for 3/4 whistles (depends on each pressure cooker).

9. After 6-7 minutes of taking rice cooker off the flame, open its lid carefully. Sprinkle warm saffron milk and spread the coriander leaves, mint leaves and pomegranate seeds on top of rice.

10. Put the lid on again and keep aside. Let steam do its magic.

Serving Tip:

Zafrani pulao should always be served hot. If your rice is not hot enough for serving, put the cooker on tawa or griddle and switch on the flame. Heat it for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.

This way, the rice doesn’t burn at the bottom of cooker and retains good texture.

Variations for Zafrani Pulao

These are not really innovative variations, but still I thought I should elaborate a bit more on them. So, have a look –

Without Pressure Cooker –

If you want more authentic flavors for this pulao and have some time to spend, you can certainly try it out with regular biryani method.

Cook the onions and masala in heavy bottom pan, and prepare rice in another pan. When the rice is 3/4th done, add it on top of the cooked masala base.

Sprinkle the saffron milk and garnish with fried onions, mint leaves and coriander leaves. Put it on dum and cook slowly.

Done! Your Zafrani biryani is ready to serve.

Non-Veg Pulao –

As I’ve mentioned above, it can also be prepared with chicken. I will write its recipe in detail someday, but for now, do take a note of these tips –

  1. Marinate the chicken with red chilli powder, saffron milk and yogurt for at least 1-2 hours.
  2. Do not add other veggies like tomatoes or capsicum in it. These veggies will completely change the taste and color of your pulao.

Note – Zafrani Pulao should always have a mild spicy taste due to milk, yogurt and dried nuts. Do not make it more spicy by adding any other spices.

Alright, I think that’s pretty much about it. Do you make this pulao with your own style? Can you suggest more variations and twists for this recipe? Let me know in the comments below.

Also Read: Palak Pulao Recipe

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