If you are looking for something sweet yet light with a hint of the exotic, then this dessert is for you. That’s exactly what I craved one day. I knew phirni fit the bill perfectly.
Phirni or firni is an Indian dessert from the Punjab region. It is the more exotic cousin of a traditional Indian rice pudding or kheer. While a bowl of kheer is like a warm hug, a bowl of cold phirni is like a breath of cool, fresh air.
Phirni is made with ground basmati rice cooked in milk, simmered and reduced till thick and creamy. This is sweetened and flavored with anything from cardamom to saffron to rose or even mango! As you can see, I used rose syrup here. It adds such a pretty pink color and a beautiful fragrance, not to mention flavor.
Phirni is best served chilled, set in little clay or earthen pots. In the absence of such serveware, any dessert bowl will do.
The top of this pudding sets perfectly after a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Dip your spoon into it and scoop up the luscious creamy pudding. The flavor is unlike anything you may have ever eaten before. A cool dessert perfect for when you have company or on days when you decide to give yourself a little treat. Because, well… why not?!!
Topped with nuts and real rose petals, this makes for a dessert fit for royalty. One may find it hard to believe that everyday humble ingredients like rice, milk and sugar come together to make something so beautiful and delicious!
You do need to be a bit patient to properly reduce the milk and cook the rice till the pudding thickens. There are some recipes that use shortcuts like sweetened condensed milk, but I love the clean flavors that you get when following the traditional method.
- Whole milk - 4½ cups
- Cardamom powder - ¼ tsp
- Basmati rice - ¼ cup
- Sugar - 6 tbsp
- Rose syrup - 2 tbsp (can be replaced with 1 tsp rose water or 2 drops of pure rose essence)
- Almonds - 2 tbsp, chopped (can also use pistachios)
- Dried rose petals - a few, to garnish (optional)
- Wash the basmati rice in water a couple of times and soak in water for half an hour. This will make the grinding part easier. using a blender, grind rice to a fairly smooth paste, adding a few tablespoons of milk. Set aside.
- In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, start heating the milk on medium-high heat. When the milk boils, add the rice paste and reduce heat to medium. Cook the rice, stirring often to avoid any lumps. In about 10-15 minutes, the rice will be cooked. Cook the pudding further till it reduces and thickens, maybe 10 more minutes.
- Add sugar and rose syrup. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Taste and add more sugar or rose syrup, if needed.
- Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes, but not more than that as the pudding will begin to set as it cools.
- Transfer phirni to a big serving bowl or individual dessert bowls and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a couple of hours so that phirni sets properly.
- Serve cold phirni garnished with chopped nuts and dried rose petals.
2. A shortcut method to make phirni is to use store-bought rice flour instead of making your own rice paste.
Like I mentioned above, a cheat’s way of making phirni is by using rice flour. Here is a great recipe which I’ve successfully tried a few times, from my buddy Sonal’s blog.
Enjoy this gorgeous Indian dessert. It is creamy, sweet and delicious and checks off all the right boxes for the perfect desert!
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You will find recipes like these golden beauties – Apple & Coconut Burfi Bars.
Or, how about some creamy and luscious Bhapa Doi, a baked yogurt pudding that takes 5 minutes to prep!
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