Phirni is one of the most exotic, and traditionally one of the most gruelling desserts to make. But, it has stood the test of time and remains an undeniable favourite for Indians. No Indian fine dining restaurant dessert menu is complete without Phirni. It’s called “Phirni” because the word means “stirred” in Hindi. And this dessert needs a lot of stirring to get the texture right. It should be rich, thick and creamy, much like a creme brulee. The smoother, the better. Phirni can be smoother the lower heat it is cooked on, but this will take much more time, around an hour. Nowadays most people boil and stir for around 30-40 minutes.
Recipe: Saffron Phirni
2 litres milk
1 cup rice washed and soaked overnight
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Cardamom, deseeded and pound
around 20 strands of Saffron, soaked in a tsp of warm water or milk
Crushed pistachios for garnish
1. Remove the water from the rice and grind it very fine.
2. Keep aside half a cup of cold milk and bring the rest to boil, reduce heat to super low, stir frequently and keep boiling for about 1 hour.
3. Add the ground rice to the half cup of cool milk, mix well and gently add to the boiling milk.
4. Keep stirring until very smooth and creamy.
5. Add sugar, ground cardamom and saffron. Blend well.
6. Cool completely and set it in small serving bowls and refrigerate for 5-6 hours before serving.
7. Just when about to stir, sprinkle on crushed pistachios.
photo: Michelle Peters-Jones
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