Recipe: Turkish Dessert Zerde

There is one thing I am actually really good at when it comes to our household (as a side note: we don’t own an iron and I am pretty sure our floors would hardly see a vacuum cleaner if it wasn’t for Manfred, my robot vacuum) – building up stocks. It is something I have grown up with. My family was most likely influenced by living through World War II and then the GDR. We also always lived in a tiny village – no supermarket there. From there we wouldn’t go to the next town to buy only one or two things. Later on I lived in Istanbul where everybody buys everything in bulk.

Now, Manhattan kitchens (and apartments) are slightly smaller than those in Germany and Turkey. They especially contain little storage space. Which is why Rich used to criticize me for buying larger amounts of groceries. Like when I ordered about 20 kg of legumes, bulgur, olive oil, etc. from a Turkish online store in early February. My argument at the time: they had %10 off everything!!! (It might have actually been a great intuition. The same which led me to order 48 rolls of recycled toilet paper at the end of February when I just wanted to prove that we can order cheap recycled TP.)

Recipe: Turkish Dessert Zerde

Anyway, recently my stocking up skills have been much more appreciated. We have so many different things to eat these days. Of course, restaurants are still open to order food (as good Manhattanites used to do regularly before the crisis), but we also have fun cooking at home. We try to go to the supermarket only every two weeks when we really need fresh groceries. Last Saturday we ventured on this adventure and didn’t really enjoy it. Not only are the lines very long, but many people still don’t keep any distance. Some even come extra close to you (and there was that one granny that touched me on my back on purpose).

Recipe: Turkish Dessert Zerde

So we rather keep away from supermarkets and bigger groups of people and use the foods we have at home (thanks to me). After all I remembered that I had bought a bigger bag of Turkish saffron the last time I was in Istanbul (yes, I am not only good at stocking up, but also at keeping things, looking at them, and not using them). What a coincidence that one of my favorite desserts ever is a Turkish (or Middle Eastern) saffron dessert, zerde. It is actually so easy to make and it consists of very few ingredients. You basically only need saffron, rice, sugar and cornstarch. Everybody has water at home. You can leave the rose water out (esp. if you don’t like the taste) and also the currants. Saying that, we didn’t have currants at home. So I replaced them with raisins.

Recipe: Turkish Dessert Zerde

Recipe: Turkish Dessert Zerde

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 portions


  • 65 g rice
  • 125 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. saffron
  • rose water
  • currants


  • Put the saffron in a little bowl and cover it with boiling water.
  • In a pot bring the rice, sugar and 600 ml water to a boil. If you like it, add a slug of rose water. Simmer until the rice is cooked.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in 100 ml cold water.
  • Add the cornstarch water and the saffron to the rice. Stir constantly until the mix thickens.
  • Pour it into a bowl and allow it to cool.
  • Put currants to taste on top.
Recipe: Turkish Dessert Zerde

© janavar

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