Pakistani Saffron Milk

This recipe originally appeared in BBC Good Food Magazine, India, October, 2012, for a ‘Pakistani Feast’ feature I was commissioned for.

Strawberries with fresh mint or maybe some grilled peaches with thick yogurt and a splash of rosewater for breakfast; curly frisée tossed with crimson tomato orbs and lots of Persian Feta crumbled on top – creamy, salty and with a sharp bite – doused with verdant olive oil for lunch.

Finally, for dinner, one of my favorite fish – roasted halibut – with a side of charred, velvety red capsicum.

Last Thursday, I suspect I had the last of summer’s candy-sweet tomatoes.

My husband and I shared a few slices of tomatoes with soft, milky slices of mozzarella di bufala with a trail of olive oil and some torn pieces of fragrant, fresh basil scattered on top. (This olive oil is my favourite one these days – utterly delicious!)

Alas, it is now time to sip on warming drinks in the evenings.

This warming sherbet with its vermilion hue and musky, smoky aroma of cardamom and saffron is beautiful with a crown of cream.

It is just what I want to drink with a copy of Donna Hay’s magazine in my lap.

What are you eating or drinking to celebrate the change of season?

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Shahi Zafran ka Sharbat – Honey and Saffron Sherbet in the Pakistani Manner

Yield: 4
Author: Shayma Saadat


  • 1 tsp saffron strands, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 liter + 3 tbsp whole milk
  • 300 ml heavy whipping cream
  • 6 green cardamom pods, shells removed, seeds extracted
  • 2-3 tbsp honey (I like acacia or manuka)
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • crushed unsalted pistachios for garnish


  • Crush saffron threads in a pestle and mortar and transfer to a bowl. Add 3 tbsp milk.
  • Beat the cream in a chilled bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer just until it holds a loose peak. Store in refrigerator till you are ready to serve the sharbat.
  • Place milk in a medium-sized sauce pan on medium-low heat. Add cardamom seeds and bring to a simmer.
  • Pass milk through sieve into a glass vessel and discard cardamom seeds.
  • While milk is still warm (it should not be hot), add saffron water, honey and cardamom powder. Stir well to incorporate.
  • Transfer to serving glasses and add dollop of cream and sprinkle with crushed pistachios before serving.

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  1. Wow, this looks really good… almost like a royal milkshake! Look forward to trying it and hope you had a lovely Eid.

    1. @Habiba Thank you – I hope you had a lovely Eid, too.
      @Shu How lovely to see you here. Thank you. x s

  2. Hi shayma, haven’t dropped a comment in a while. Totally agree with the comment above- this looks like a royal milkshake! Love the pale golden hue the saffron gives it. And love cardamom- one of my favourite spices for both sweet and savoury! x

  3. very pretty – looks so light and airy!!!

    love summer food, will miss it in the winter! – yesterday i found green watermelon-looking heirloom tomatoes — too pretty to eat!

    i like that olive oil as well – first tried it from the free samples at whole foods, hehehehe!!!

  4. Evenings are still fairly warm around here, but I am marking this recipe for when things cool off a little, it is simply gorgeous.

  5. @Nadia Thank you so much – if you love saffron (which I know you do), you will enjoy this. Sigh, the weather is turning. Enjoy your summer tommies as much as you can. I can’t believe you love that olive oil, too 🙂 x s

    @Oui, Chef Thank you so much – hope you are enjoying the rest of your summer.

  6. The name itself is so beautiful. I was very surprised to see the napkins because I have a quilt made by my maternal grandmother and it has the exact same pattern…I mean it…exactly the same. It’s a strange coincidence.

    1. @Soma Thank you so much. These napkins are made by local craftswomen in Pakistan – they make them for an NGO called Behbud – a gift from one of my best friends’ mother. Your quilt must be beautiful.

    1. @Archana Thank you so much. Isn’t saffron such a beautiful ingredient? Come and join us for a glass of this!

  7. This looks very delicious. I really like food from around India and Pakistan, and it’s good to see something like this that could work well as a dessert.

  8. I would love to see these recipes and more like it in a cookbook for the Kindle. Any chance of this happening in the near future?

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