Updated 22 Sep, 2019

Warmth, humility and hospitality of Sindhis in Pakistan is an integral part of their culture. However, to experience this truly one has to drive to the real Sindh.

An authentic home of a Sindhi family and their warm welcome is best enjoyed in the summer over thaadal and rabrri. But being a tourist myself I have no acquaintances in lower Sindh, hence the local market will have to do, for now.

The buzz in the Shahi Bazaar of Hyderabad is electric; noise, people, food stalls, chhann chhann of the Sindhi bangles, music and the loud Asr aazaan scoring to the carnival of life. I walk with a hurried pace towards Rabrri and Kheer Centre hoping to beat the heat, and the foot traffic customarily headed the same way after Asr prayers.

A sip of chilled thaadal amidst the madness of the rush hour is nothing short of heavenly. And then I spot the rabrri shop diagonal to Navalrai Clock Tower, the colonial landmark, I am so desperately looking for.

I block the din and focus on the bowl of rabrri. My hungry gnawing insides ready to savour the sweetness of the delicious cool dessert, my mouth eager to taste the layers of thickened milk skin reduced to condensed perfection. The very first bite and I am euphoric.

I muse the journey of the milk; the fodder consumed by the cow so its body can produce milk, the calf may have been denied milk so it could be transported to Rabrri and Kheer Centre, the slow cooking of the milk to reduce its water content, in essence encouraging its creaminess and natural sweetness centre stage, the low heat evaporating the water until there is only cream and sugar and the heady scent of cardamom.

I was in a state of sweet nirvana. I smile to myself and think of the simplicity and joy of the moment. Milk and sugar served in an earthen bowl to beat sweet cravings, and a sip of chilled thaadal to quench the thirst and beat the heat.

Yes, simple pleasures make the best treasures, this world’s best-kept secret for sure.


Photo: KFoods
Photo: KFoods


2 litres milk

3/4 cup sugar

12 each almonds and pistachio

7 cardamom pods

A pinch of saffron

½ teaspoon rose water


Peel and chop the soaked almonds and pistachio. Soak saffron in hot milk and crush to make a paste. In a heavy lidded pot or wok, pour milk and bring to boil on medium flame. Once milk comes to a simmer and cream sets on the top, gently move cream to a side and stir in the centre to ensure that the milk does not stick to the bottom.

Keep repeating the process until milk is reduced to one-third. Add sugar, cardamom and saffron and boil for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped nuts and turn off flame, stirring the pot to mix the cream on the side of the pot. Cool to room temperature, add rose water and chill in refrigerator. Serve chilled.


Photo: Dishing With Divya
Photo: Dishing With Divya


1 1/2 litres water

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cantaloupes seeds

1 teaspoon watermelon seeds

20 almonds

250 ml milk

Sugar to taste

20 dried/fresh rose petals


Soak sugar in half litre water. Wash all ingredients and soak in two cups of water. Let soak for three to four hours. Grind the soaked ingredients, sieve through a muslin cloth and strain through water, repeat four to five times, straining through the same water, or i.e. until paste renders no essence. Add the remaining water and milk. Serve chilled.


Cake Ingredients

7 oz flour

4 eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

1 cup castor sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

8 oz butter


Cream butter and sugar with cake beater. Sift flour and baking powder, adding one tablespoon of the dry mixture and one egg at a time into sugar/butter. Using cake mixer beat until all four eggs and vanilla essence are added. Add the remaining dry mixture, and mix with a spatula. Divide the batter into two eight-inch cake pans and bake in a pre-heated oven (350 degrees F or 180 degrees C) for 20 to 22 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack and ice.


In a pan, melt 6 oz butter and three-fourth cup white granulated sugar, set aside to cool. Add three beaten eggs to butter and sugar and cook on lowest heat setting until sugar dissolves, and icing has thickened, set aside to cool. Once cool, add one tablespoon coffee (dissolved in one tablespoon water) to the icing.

Set the icing in fridge for 20 minutes. Put the icing on one cake, top it with the second cake, and apply icing on top and all around, set in the fridge for 20 minutes. Your cake is ready for devouring and sharing.

Originally published in Dawn, EOS, August 5th, 2018


Naeem Aug 05, 2018 10:20am
It looks so tasty...
Afzal Aug 05, 2018 11:01am
Good to read.
Kishin Aug 05, 2018 11:27am
Mouthwatering recipes from my Sindh. Thank you very much Bisma. My wonderful Korean wife makes few Sindhi dishes and will love your recipes. I am sure she will make me Sindhi Rabrri in a day or two and I will make Thaadal for my son, wife and myself. Loves for all Sindhis from USA
Asma Safdar Syed Aug 05, 2018 11:34am
very nice easy
Jiyalo Wadero Aug 05, 2018 06:08pm
Ms.Bisma Tirmizi by touching upon the Sindhi delicacies has made this Sindhi living in America truly nostalgic.Thank you for your in depth article on Sindhi Cuisine and the world famous Sindhi hospitality. Sindh the technicolor Province of Pakistan.
Syed Mohsin Aug 06, 2018 09:41am
No replacement of Rabree, a sweat from heaven.
M. Emad Aug 06, 2018 09:21pm
Sindhi foods are not healthy.
Speak_truth Aug 07, 2018 10:40am
RabRi is the most delicious dessert in the world.
Jiyalo Wadero Aug 07, 2018 03:50pm
@M. Emad You are in Calcutta and have never been to the technicolor Province of Sindh, Read this article one more time in order to know the health benefits of Sindhi Cuisine.
shahzad khan Sep 22, 2019 04:47pm
I have tried all these really tasty and specially Rabrii and Bombay bakery cake.
Akhtar Banbhan Sep 23, 2019 10:45am
Tasty and mouthwatering recipes
Imtiaz Ali Khan Sep 23, 2019 10:16pm
I'm Sindhi and I love our food and all food of Pakistan. With moderation it's really good to enjoy all kind of sweets. I'm a vegetarian and we have lots of veg and non veg in Sindh, Pakistan and rest of Pakistan. Love to everyone specially my fellow Sindhis all over the world and specially India we are living in two different countries but we will always have our Sindhi bonds of the Sindhu River. Long live Sindh, Pakistan Zindabad!