Shahi Tukray

shahi tukray

Salted caramels from Trader Joe’s and saffron strands from Yekta were always packed into my suitcase for my trip back home to Rome.

And when I was really lucky, I’d get to take back a blueberry-banana bread loaf made by Aunty Shelly and a cranberry walnut loaf by Aunty Sabiha, my Ami’s dearest friends.

shahi tukray

When I was visiting my Ami in Washington, I would miss the orb-like cherry tomatoes from the corner shop in Testaccio, the kind you pop in your mouth like candy, and the cacio e pepe at Da Francesco, creamy, starchy, tangy, with just the right amount of fresh cracked pepper grinded on top.

And I would especially miss the walk back home to San Saba through the center of Rome’s historical center, wobbling in my vertiginous heels on the uneven sanpietrini.

But when in Rome, I would miss the chats with the women my mother befriended when she arrived in Washington DC as a young bride.

That’s me being a brat (chamchi is the correct word in Urdu) on Aunty Shelly’s lap with my mother next to us, resplendent in fuchsia.

And Aunty Sabiha, the last one on the right, elegant, like a petite  ballerina.

shahi tukray

Aunty Sabiha makes a mean saffron-infused bread pudding which she serves during her luscious Eid luncheons every year, it’s her mum’s recipe.

It is pretty much her opus magnus.

And this is a woman who is also an economics Professor, mind you. Oh, and an artist, her paintings depicting scenes of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, this bread pudding, known as Shahi Tukray, the Emperor’s Morsels, could not be packed up and taken with to Rome, so I asked her for the recipe.

Now I can have this bread pudding with its notes of musky saffron all year round, rather than just during Eid.

It’s most certainly not the kind of bread pudding you’re used to. This has no eggs, but that’s the way it is traditionally made in Pakistan.

shahi tukray

First Aunty Sabiha fries each delicate piece of crustless bread in a little bit of butter and oil and then transfers it to a baking dish…

shahi tukray

She keeps soaking the bread with creamy half-and-half…

shahi tukray

Then the bread is ready for its second layer of a sugary, saffron and cardamom-infused syrup, like molten amber…

shahi tukray

And finally, another pour of heavy whipping cream and it all goes into the oven…

shahi tukray

Emerging puffed, bubbly, soft, bronzed…

shahi tukray

With notes of saffron in every morsel…a bonne bouche.

shahi tukray
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Aunty Sabiha’s Shahi Tukray- Saffron Bread Pudding in the Pakistani Manner

Author: Shayma Saadat


  • 11×13 in baking dish


  • 10 slices white bread; preferably thick sandwich variety. (If in the USA, use Pepperidge Farm toasting white)
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half (half whole milk; half whole cream)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4-6 cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 tsp (heaped) saffron strands, ground into a powder (I use a mortal and pestle)
  • A neutral oil and unsalted butter for frying
  • Almonds and pistachios any style to your liking, (unsalted), for garnish


  • Lightly butter your baking dish and set aside.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  • Cut off edges from the bread, slice in half on the diagonal.
  • Place pan on medium high heat and smear with some butter, then add a few drops of oil (approximately 2 tsps).
  • Fry bread till lightly brown on both sides. You will have to keep adding more butter and oil as you fry the batches of bread.
  • Transfer fried bread into baking dish. Do not double layer the bread.
  • Slowly begin to pour half-and-half on bread. As the bread absorbs the liquid, pour more.
  • In the meantime place a saucepan on the stove on high heat and add sugar,water and cardamom pods.
  • Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, add saffron powder and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Pour half of heavy cream over the bread.
  • Now pour hot syrup on top of bread, then pour the remainder of the whipped cream and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Garnish with almonds and pistachios.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature.

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  1. YUMMY!

    this looks so elegant. I recently made a French bread pudding — perhaps our dessert minds are aligned?

    Fabulous seeing you as a little thing, and your mama is a knock out!


  2. One of my favorite favorite desserts. Just the other day I was thinking and talking about it to a friend. Lets just not think about the calories, this is divine!

  3. And I would be that friend that Kulsum at Journey Kitchen was talking to. We were talking about comfort food and she mentioned this dish, and I wanted to know how to make it because it sounded so good. What great luck that you posted a recipe for it!

  4. I was just thinking about this pudding the other day, but in Hyderabad it’s known as “double ka meetha”. Whatever the name, it’s one of my favourites. I need to go and make it now!

  5. What a gorgeous photo of all of you! I love Shahi Tukray and this recipe sounds delicious!

  6. Ever the brat eh? Occupying place of pride on the prized lap! You look a lot like your beautiful Ammi Shayma. Another gorgeous post, dripping with decadence! Oh to be born an emperor & to be served these morsels! It’s a beautiful take on Shahi Tukdas, much more divine than the sort I’ve had.

  7. Beautiful dessert dish Shayma! Would you believe I have never ever tried this Shahi dessert..I think it’s about time that I did! Lovely pics as well my friend!

  8. Wow! The wow is for the recipe as this is a somewhat different method of making shahi tukras than I’m familiar with.
    Usually what I see people do is fry the bread to a crisp and whack it into a sweetened milk mixture.

    How we do it in my family is that after frying the bread, Ammi doodh kay andar illaichi, cheeni aur zafraan dal kar usay ‘karh, karh’ kar kay itna garha kar laiti hain kay it resembles condensed milk in its viscosity. Then she pours this over the bread and puts it in the fridge to cool down before serving.

    Anyway I think I’ll surprise my parents with this version of shahi tukras on their anniversary which is round the corner. 🙂

  9. Hi, I’ve been following you on Twitter, but somehow, only got to your blog tonight. I love the look and feel of your blog 🙂 You deserve all the accolades you got and more! I am hoping to visit here more and get to know you and your food!

    Your fellow Torontonian,

  10. This is my favorite Pakistani dessert! I love this version (w/o rabri) seems lighter (not in calories, but in texture 😉 ) and none of the mess of soaking the bread in the sheera. Beautiful photos and your mother is looking gorgeous, mashallah.

  11. Shayma, the meetha looks delicious. Give this meetha to my hubby any day, and he will be happy. I have to prepare this meetha for him almost every month.

  12. As a kid the soggy bread would seem unappetizing so i never tried this dessert. Yours looks delish with the cream wash and the oven baked crust so the fact that it probably has a caramelised crunchy bite to it makes it worth a try . Lovely post 🙂 keep em coming

  13. Shayma – wonderful story and I love coming here to share them. Can you be a brat? ;o) I think bread puddings are the most honest comfort foods and this one with my favorites saffron, cardamom and pistachios (I will not mention the cream and syrup for I fear my waistline might expand)is begging me to make it! Thanks.

  14. Shayma

    You bring so much elegance and style to your posts and this one is no exception; love that pudding; in Lebanese pastries too, egg is absent. I am not so fond of eggs, so I don’t miss it, the pudding is sweet, fragrant and creamy enough!

  15. For sure the best bread pudding I’ve ever had!!As always the stories and the way you tell them make all the difference….

  16. I made this today
    I couldnt believe it turned out so good that everyone loved it
    Thanks shayma

  17. I roped my mother in to helping me make this today.
    My parents really liked how it came out. 🙂

  18. Shayma, you deserve a massive pat in the back for an amazing blog which should one day be compiled into a book. Your mother is utterly stunning as you are!

    I keep telling myself to try out the dal recipe you posted many months ago. It has been a long time since I had one.

  19. oh oh ohhhhh shahi tukray!!! i’ve been waiting for this recipe for monthsssss!!! *stomach growls ferociously* can’t wait to drown in this one!

  20. wow, great recipe! your cardamoms look spectacularly fresh and green, where do you buy them from?

  21. Thank you for the kind and wonderful comments, everyone.

    @Umair How amazing that you made this for your parents- e bravo. I am sure your mother’s version is also really fantastic.

    @Samim I live in Toronto and I buy them from Iqbal Foods, they are always very fresh; they have a very high turnover in his shop- and in my home, we have cardamom every day in one form or another, so they stay green and fresh.

  22. It really isn’t the delicious recipe and wonderful photo journal, but the story that goes with it, great work S, keep them coming x

  23. Going to try this for my husband’s sister’s dinner. Thought I should d brave this for it. Trying to channel my inner Athena. It sounds great Shaymapa 🙂 HUG

  24. I am unwell. Missing home like crazy, I was craving my nani’s Shahi Tukray. This blog post made me feel SO much better. Making it first thing tomorrow morning. I hope they turn out as good as my Nani’s if not better 🙂 They sure look delectable.

  25. I tried this recipe and it turned out really well – so scrumptious! The only thing I would recommend is that instead of frying the bread in butter and oil, it’s better to spread a thin layer of butter directly on both sides of the bread and then fry it in a non-stick pan or with a little oil. I just found that when I added butter to the pan it would end up pooling in all the wrong areas. If you butter the bread itself, then the butter stays where it needs to (under the bread) and makes the bread lovely and golden brown.

  26. Oh Shayma! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe…I just made this. Oh! It was like heaven.

  27. Hi Shayma,

    I have been following your blog for a while but since I am always reading it at work, I am always in a rush and never get to leave any comment!

    Can I tell you how much I love your blog and I make a dish from here every now and then! 🙂 It always turns out great!

    I do want to ask you though, what camera do you use, the pictures come out great!
    Also, I see a jar with cut pistachios! I have been searching cut pistachios forever, can you tell me what brand it is, so I can look for it!


  28. The photographs with this recipe are amazing and I couldn’t resist trying out the recipe. It was brilliant and easy and the results were totally delicious. The only thing is, it seems like there was too much liquid. Perhaps it needed less syrup? I’m wondering if it was just me. It didn’t matter, it was entirely devoured in no time at all 🙂


  29. Hi. I tried this recipe for my husband’s birthday (its his fav dessert). I must say that this is one of the best recipes I have come across and really want to thank you for sharing it.

  30. Very well written, the photos of Shahi Tukray are so tempting.This indeed is a unique recipe of the royal dessert,must give it a try.Appreciate your generosity for sharing a family recipe.All the best 🙂

  31. Beautiful! can i make this in advance and only bake it on time so that it stays hot …pls reply soon…i need to make this tomorrow for lunch..thankx

  32. Hi Shayma!

    Can you post the recipe for the orange-scented bread pudding featured in your video? It looks so wonderful and I’d love to make it.

  33. Made this for the second Eid in a row, added some orange zest like in your video. This recipe is a winner! This time I didn’t have butter and ended up frying it in ghee, it tastes even better! Thanks for posting such great recipes Shayma 🙂

  34. Hi Shaymah,
    I came across this blog looking for a certain recipe online and I have to say by accident I have come across some real treats and treasures. It’s a wonderful blog and I will be trying this recipe. Love your posts and stories that come with each recipe.
    I really would like to try the recipe in your video which looks amazing. Please direct me to where it was posted.

    Regards and love


  35. Do you only make a single layer of toast vs two/three? I cant wait to try out this recipe. Have you ever prepared it ahead and baked it to serve hot for guests?

  36. Just made this! Somehow my tray came out looking a bit anemic and too soggy. The flavors were spot on though. Thank you !

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