(Above): Saffron Pistachio Cheesecake [Amar D. Gupta/Siliconeer]

Pistachio and saffron are two ingredients in some of the most delicious desserts back home, now they are infused with a favorite dessert of the West. Chef Sanjay Patel shows how.



  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch of fine salt


  • 2 lbs cream cheese (at room temp.)
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cups sour cream
  • 6 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • ½ cup chopped pistachio
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron


  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 tsp sliced pistachio


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325˚F.

Crust: Melt the butter covered in a medium microwave-safe bowl, or a saucepan. Brush a 9-inch spring form pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pan, taking care to get the crust evenly into the edges. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes and set aside to cool. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with foil and put in a roasting pan.

Filling: Beat cream cheese on medium speed with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add granulated sugar and beat just until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the sour cream, then eggs, vanilla and both citrus zests, chopped pistachio and saffron; take care not to over whip. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bring a medium saucepan or kettle of water to a boil. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don’t pull the rack out of the oven). Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the spring form pan. Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour 10 minutes – the outside of the cake will set but the center will still be loose.

Topping: Stir together the sour cream, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Spread over the top of the cooked cheesecake, then sprinkle the sliced pistachio and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off, cook the cheesecake in the residual heat in the oven for about 1 hour. This gentle finish minimizes the risk of the dreaded crack in your cheesecake.

Remove cheesecake from the roasting pan to a rack. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Remove the spring form ring. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece.

Enjoy a serving after dinner.