Phirni is a popular Indian sweet dish made with rice, milk, and sugar. This is a tried and tested Mughlai-style traditional phirni recipe.
There are different stories about the origin of Phirni. It is believed this rich and creamy milk pudding came into existence during the Mughal era as a royal desert.
Today Phirni is a popular sweet dish across the Indian subcontinent.
Usually, it is served in traditional, eco-friendly earthen pots (Mitti Ke Kulhad or Matki). In ancient times refrigerators were not invented, so serving Phirni in earthen vessels had a purpose; it remains chilled for a longer duration and has a particularly pleasing taste.
Phirni vs. Kheer
Many food lovers confuse phirni with kheer. These two are different types of Indian milk pudding.
The common ingredients between both dessert recipes are – milk, sugar, cardamom powder, saffron, and rice (if it is rice kheer).
The phirni is more creamy and thick in texture than kheer.
Kheer can be served warm or cold, but a phirni tastes best when chilled.
For this classic phirni recipe, you need a handful of staple ingredients.
Milk: Use full-fat dairy milk for a rich and creamy phirni.
Rice: Usually, long-grain basmati rice is used for making phirni. But you can make it with brown rice as I do for badam phirni or foxnuts (makhana) to keep it low in calories.
Sugar: Use granulated white sugar
Saffron: It gives a golden color, intense aroma, and sweet taste to the firni.
Cardamom Powder: Elaichi (green cardamom powder) gives a sweet aroma and taste.
Nuts: Almonds and pistachio are best friends of a phirni. You can skip adding nuts if you are allergic.
Prepare Rice Powder: Clean, wash, and soak rice in water for 15 minutes. Next, drain water, and spread soaked rice on a metal strainer or dry kitchen towel.
Allow the rice to become completely dry. It should not be wet or moist.
Make a coarse powder (you should feel the rice texture) of rice in the blender. DO NOT make a fine powder. Keep aside.
Dry Fruits Powder: Grind almonds and pistachio to a coarse powder. Set aside. You can grind green cardamom as well with them.
Make Phirni: Boil milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Add dry fruit powder and saffron, stir to combine, and simmer the milk over low heat.
Add rice powder once the milk is reduced to almost half the original quantity. Stir continuously to avoid any lump formation.
Cook till rice is soft and mushy and the texture of phirni is thick.
Once phirni is thick, add sugar and stir to combine nicely. Cook for a few more minutes for the sugar to dissolve. Turn off the heat.
Allow the phirni to cool down entirely before keeping it in the refrigerator.
My Tried & True Tips
It is best to use full-fat milk for this phirni recipe.
Stir the milk at regular intervals while simmering to avoid burning. Use a wooden spoon to stir the milk and phirni.
The rice should not be wet/moist while grinding; it will form lumps once added to milk.
Do not make a fine powder of dry fruit or rice. Instead, keep it coarse in texture. One pulse in a food processor or blender is enough.
Make sure to add sugar only after the phirni is thickened.
Phirni thickens more in texture after cooling. Hence, adjust the consistency accordingly.
Allow phirni to chill in the fridge for 1 – 2 hours or overnight before serving.
Serving and Storing Suggestions
A firni is best-served cold in earthen pots (mitti ke kulhad). I prefer making it a day before serving and chilling it in the refrigerator overnight.
Suppose you are not keen on serving it chilled. Instead, serve firni at room temperature.
Store the leftover phirni in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days. No need to reheat. Serve at room temperature or cold.
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Traditional Phirni Recipe
- Heavy Bottom Kadhai
- 1- lite full fat milk
- ¼ Cup rice
- ½ Cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- 2 tablespoon almonds
- 2 tablespoon pistachio
- To prepare the Phirni, wash and soak rice in water for about 15 minutes. Next, drain water, and spread soaked rice on a metal strainer or dry kitchen towel. Allow the rice to become completely dry. It should not be wet or moist.
- Make a coarse powder (you should feel the rice texture) of rice in the blender. DO NOT make a fine powder. Keep aside in a bowl.
- Grind almonds and pistachio to a coarse powder. Set aside. You can grind green cardamom as well with them.
- Boil milk in a heavy bottomed pan, reduce the heat to low once the milk starts bubbling. Add saffron, cardamom powder, and dry fruits powder. Stir to combine.
- Simmer the milk over low heat and stir at regular intervals until milk is reduced to almost half from the original quantity.
- Add rice powder. Stir continuously to avoid any lump formation. Cook till rice is soft, mushy, and the texture of phirni is thick.
- Once phirni is thick, add sugar and stir to combine nicely. Taste and add more sugar if required. After cooling down, the phirni taste less sweet. Cook for few more minutes for the sugar to dissolve. Turn off the heat.
- Let Phirni cool down for some time. Once Phirni has cooled down transfer it into earthenware containers. Keep in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Serve Phirni chilled garnished with chopped nuts and saffron strands.
- Never add sugar before milk is thickened. It prevents milk from thickening.
- After adding rice powder continuously stir the phirni else there is lump formation.
- After cooling down firni becomes thicker. Hence, adjust the consistency accordingly.
Lovely pics! I have never had a sweet tooth but my husband’s teeth are all sweet 😛 will def. try this recipe for him.
nice clicks Hina, I am also a big time fan of phirni 🙂
mitushi gupta says
thanks hina….though i knew how to prepare phirni but ur recipe has given an extra edge to it…i found something usefull in you recipe which was lacking in my preparation…..thanks a tonn…u made my day……this diwali will be phirni diwwali!
Hina Gujral says
I am so glad that you liked the recipe. Hope your phirni turned out delicious.
Dry fruits powder?
Hina Gujral says
In Step 3 we have explained to make a coarse powder of almonds and pistachio.