Cooking tips/notes: Saffron is a special ingredient, for special occasion dishes, which is certainly reflected in its price. (You will get a much better deal on saffron at Indian, Asian, or Middle Eastern markets.) Thank goodness that a little goes a very long way. Saffron adds such an exotic flavor and color. The technique of draining the yogurt helps thicken it. However, depending on the brand of yogurt and its “thickness” – not to mention your own personal taste or schedule – this step can be skipped without too much impact on the final dish. Dried rose petals are not traditional, but they add such a beautiful color and aroma I couldn’t resist adding them to my version. They are inexpensive and can be found in most Asian or Middle Eastern markets.
1 quart whole-milk plain, Greek-style yogurt
½ teaspoon green cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon milk
4 to 6 tablespoons sugar, depending on personal taste
2 tablespoons roasted and salted pistachios, chopped
1 tablespoon dried rose petals
Place a strainer over a large bowl and line with cheesecloth. Add yogurt to the cheesecloth-lined strainer and refrigerate for several hours to allow whey to drain into the bowl.
When ready to complete the dish, put saffron threads into a small bowl. Add milk and stir. Set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add cardamom seeds. Toast for several minutes, moving them around in the pan until fragrant, being careful not to scorch. Remove seeds from skillet and let cool. Then crush seeds in a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the back of a knife. They should end up looking like coarse-ground black pepper. Set aside.
Put drained yogurt into a large bowl and add sugar—starting with 4 tablespoons (¼ cup). Stir thoroughly so that sugar dissolves—and then taste. If you’d like the yogurt to be a little sweeter, add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Add saffron/milk mixture to the yogurt. Mix together thoroughly. The yogurt will take on a beautiful pale yellow color.
To serve: spoon yogurt into a serving bowl or individual dishes. Garnish with crushed cardamom seeds, chopped pistachios, and dried rose petals.
Notes and Instructions