There are a ton of rice puddings out there, each one delicious in its own way. My favorite has to be Phirni, for its amazing texture! Creamy and grainy all at once. Also, Phirni is only served chilled, making it an ideal dessert for the summer time.
I first tasted this dessert during Ramzan / Ramadan, years ago. It had since become a ritual to stop at Cadell Road, Mahim on the way home from work, and pick up every flavour and color of Phirni one could lay eyes on! Plain -Traditional, Kesar-Pista (Saffron & Pistachio), Peru (Guava), Mango.. and more. Our fridge would be stocked with Phirni to last us a week. Naturally, one had to learn to make the traditional recipe at home in the very least! This version of rice pudding is quite healthy (does not use any cream or ghee) and is mildly sweet. Key flavourings used are cardamom and rose water.
- A spice grinder / food processor
- A Mortar and Pestle
- 5 tsps Basmati Rice
- 3 pods Cardamom
- 500 ml Milk
- 3 – 4 tsps Sugar [start with 3, if you feel the need for more sweetness add another]
- 6 – 8 Cashew Nuts [Substitute: Blanched Almonds]
- 0.5 tsp Rose-water
- 2 tsps chopped Pistachios
- Wash and lay the rice to dry on a piece of kitchen paper.
- Once completely dry, blitz in a dry grinder for 2-3 seconds at a time, until it resembles the texture below. This texture does not have to be uniform; its completely alright to have some bits that are powdery and some that are grainier. Its exactly this mix that will give you a creamy pudding with a slightly grainy texture.
- Carefully split open the cardamom pods, and extract the seeds. Don’t throw the skins away!
- Grind the seeds to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle.
- Add the milk and cardamom skins1 to a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Once the milk rises, turn down the heat to as low as possible, remove the cardamom skins and add the ground rice to the milk.
- Cook on low heat for 10 minutes until the grainy bits are soft and cooked. Stir intermittently to ensure the milk doesn’t burn or form a layer at the bottom of the pan2. Here’s how the grains should look 10 mins in:
- Add the sugar to the milk and continue to cook on low heat for another 10 mins3. Next, add the roughly chopped cashews and continue to cook for a final 10 minutes. The Phirni should reach a thick, creamy consistency4
- Turn the heat off; add the ground cardamom powder to the Phirni and stir gently. Spoon the pudding into a bowl and chill in the fridge for 3 – 4 hours or until it sets.
- Once set, garnish with chopped pistachios and serve chilled!
1 Boiling the milk with the cardamom skins just adds a little more depth of flavour; make sure to take them out before you add the rice though!
2I use a non-stick pan as it pretty much ensures that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
3Cooking the cashews for about 10 mins gives them a softer than usual texture, that compliments the creaminess of the Phirni really well. Crisp / hard cashews would be too much of a contrast. You can also substitute blanched almonds in place of cashews.
4Here’s the final consistency you should look to achieve:
Give Phirni a shot the next time you need a ‘make ahead & chill’ dessert. Its perfect for when you need to make individual portions and is traditionally served in clay saucers or little clay pots.
P.S. Please tag @allaboutthattasteinsta if you make this, and post a picture on the gram!✌