Diwali, the most awaited festival in the year, the festival of lights, gifts, crackers and loads of sweets, the entire month is full of celebration, it seems festivity is in the air. Like many others, Diwali is my favorite festival. Since childhood, this festival always fills me with positive energy and enthusiasm. The house is decorated like a newly wedded bride. The festive preparation, shopping for gifts, festive meal cooking, I enjoy every bit of hustle bustle during the festive season.
As much I love Diwali that much I hate crackers, I am against any kind of noise pollution – loud music, screeching vehicle horns, loudspeakers, my husband often says that’s the sign “I am getting old” but even 5 years back loud music was not appealing and soothing for me. Nowadays, amount of crackers you burst in a single night is status symbol in society but next day morning the whole atmosphere has a misty layer of dust and smoke and we only inhaling that polluted air.
Talking about Phirni, there are different stories talked about its origin, some believe it came into existence during the Mughal era, as a royal desert. Today Phirni is a popular sweet dish not only in India but in Pakistan too and even after so many years it is till served in traditional style – earthen pot ware (Mitti Ke Kulhad or Matki). In ancient times refrigerators were not invented so serving Phirni in earthen vessels had a purpose behind, it remains chilled for a longer duration and has a peculiar pleasing taste to it. The Phirni served in glass or steel bowls, lacked the soul of this sweet dish.
For Phirni recipe and many other Punjabi recipes I swear by Tarla Dalal’s “Punjabi Khana”, there are no out of the box recipes in this book but each recipe turns out good in first shot, I think when you want to learn basic in and out of Punjabi food then start with simple books like this one, no complex masalas, clean and clear method of cooking explained stepwise and easy to understand language – perfect for an amateur home chef.
Learn how to make Rice Phirni in few simple steps:
Rice Phirni Recipe
Phirni is a delicious rice and milk pudding served in earthen pot ware.
- 1- litre full fat milk
- 1 Cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 Cup rice
- a pinch of saffron strands
- 3 - 4 green cardamom pods
- 1/4 Cup almonds
- 1/4 Cup pistachio
- To prepare the Phirni, wash and soak rice in water for about 1 hour.
- Dissolve saffron strands in 2 tbsp of warm milk and keep aside.
- Make a fine powder of pistachio, almond and cardamom in a mixer. Set aside till required.
- Drain soaked rice in a colander, pat dry rice on an absorbent kitchen towel.
- Blend rice in a mixer to a coarse powder. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add ½ Cup of milk (at room temperature) to the powdered rice and mix well to make a paste. Keep aside.
- Boil remaining milk in a heavy bottomed pan, reduce the heat to low once milk starts bubbling.
- Now stir in the rice paste, saffron mixture and dry fruits powder.
- Keep on stirring frequently until the pudding starts to thicken which will not take long after you add rice paste to milk.
- Now add sugar. At this stage, it is always better to taste Phirni and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly. Once all the sugar is dissolved and rice is cooked, the pudding is ready.
- Now if you like it a little loose and flowing Phirni then turn off the heat. If like it thicker like I do then cook a little further.
- Turn off the heat, let Phirni cool down for some time. Stir it every once in a while preventing it from forming a thick layer on top.
- Once Phirni has cooled down pour it into earthenware containers. Keep in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. I keep it for a longer duration like 4 – 5 hours.
- Serve Rice Phirni chilled garnished with chopped nuts and saffron strands.