Saffron Basmati Pilaf (Kesar Bhat)

Kesar bhat is the Hindu version of zarda, the classic saffron pilaf prepared by the Muslim Shia community in India and Pakistan. While zarda contains sugar and tastes more like a dessert, kesar bhat is sugarless. Cooked pilaf-style, in the Moghul tradition, it contains onions and the highly aromatic spices cardamom,cinnamon, clove and saffron. This dish is popular in regions where there is a sizable Muslim community. Serve kesar bhat with Moghul dishes and grilled meats.This recipe calls for usli ghee, which is clarified butter. Indian clarified butter differs from the European equivalent in having been simmered until all the moisture is removed from the milk solids and the fat is amber colored. This gives usli ghee its unique nutty taste.
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