What to eat for New Year's

Around the world, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated by eating different foods that are thought to bring luck, health, and wealth in the new year.

New Year 2021
Happy New Year 2021

In the American South, eating black-eyed peas with hog jowls, collard greens and cornbread on New Year's Day is thought to bring luck and prosperity in the new year (via Tripsavvy), while in Spain, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve in order to ward off bad luck (via Atlas Obscura).

Germans ring in the New Year with Marzipan candy pigs (via Vice), and in Italy, cotechino with lentils is a favorite end-of-year dish (via Not Quite Nigella).

One New Year's Eve dish you may not have heard about yet is saffron rice pudding from India.

Nupur Jain was kind enough to tell us the story of this tradition and send us a photo and recipe.

"In India, especially in the North of the country, it is said that drops of amrit (nectar) mix with the rice pudding if you put it out at night under the full moon," says Nupur. "Women in my family have been known to do so on particular full moon nights, such as Sharad Purnima (Sharad, a season, therefore, season-based full moon sighting). I made some for Karthik Purnima this November and put it out on the full moon night."

Nupur says that the benefits of having amrit, or nectar pudding, are said to be health and livelihood. "In the winter season, hot saffron-laced rice pudding is not just an excellent after-dinner sweet dish, it can warm and soothe your throat and stomach," say Nupur. "It makes a good New Year's dish to feel toasted and full along with friends and family while celebrating the coming of a New Year."

Saffron Rice Pudding

photo and recipe provided by Nupur Jain

saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding is a favorite New Year's celebration dish in North India (photo provided by Nupur Jain).


250 mL or 1 cup rice (your preference)

1 kilo or 4 cups skimmed milk

10-15 crushed saffron (preferably fresh)

Water for infusion

Almonds, cardamom, raisins, and walnuts (crushed), for garnish

½ kilo or 2 cups of sugar (white, sugar free, brown sugar as per convenience)


Wash the rice and set aside. Heat milk on low heat/flame until it comes to a simmer. Add rice into boiling milk and stir continuously for 7-10 minutes on low heat/flame. Meanwhile, crush the saffron and set aside. Pour some tepid water over the saffron to make an infusion. Crush the almonds, walnuts, cardamom and raisins and put them aside for garnish. Once the rice and milk mixture form a thick blend, check if the rice is broken (You can do this by taking a grain of rice and breaking it with a spoon; if it's soft and breaks easily, turn the heat to medium, let the pudding boil once, and then remove the pudding from the heat). Add the sugar while the pudding is still hot, stirring thoroughly. Add the saffron infusion to the pudding along with the saffron sticks. Cover the pudding with a lid. Garnish and serve while hot.