Phirni: Indian Rice Pudding

Phirni was one of the revelations during my trip to India. First of all I'm not used to having many gluten-free options in a restaurant, but luckily many Indian desserts are made of milk, saffron and cardamom...and no gluten! Besides, it is really good and delicate.

It is considered the Indian version of rice pudding. It's very popular all over the country and I learned that there are many variations. I only tried the northern version but it was enough to fall in love - it's served cold after meals, with little pistachio bites on top.

Once I came back to Amsterdam I had to try on my own. I missed the saffron and cardamom aroma I found so often in India! It was surprising to have such a great result after the first attempt, so I absolutely recommend this recipe.

Ingredients (makes 8)

  • 100 gr basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1 liter milk
  • 70 gr sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 4 tbsp water
  • pinch of saffron (1/8 gram)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachio
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  1. Wash the rice in cold water, drain it, then leave it to soak in a bowl with 4 tbsp of water, for 15 min. After this time, transfer the rice and water to the food processor, mix it for a few seconds until it creates a paste (it doesn't have to be smooth). 
  2. Pour the milk in a pan, add the saffron and bring to boil. Stir in the rice paste and cook over low heat for approximately 30 minutes. 
  3. At this point mix in the sugar and ground cardamom, stir well, cook until all ingredients are combined. Let it cool for a few hours.
  4. Serve in little bowls, with chopped pistachio on top. 
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TIPS: You can preserve Phirni in the fridge for at least 5 days, so you can make a big batch and keep small portions for a few days. This dessert is popular all over India, and you can find different versions, so feel free to garnish it the way you prefer: with almonds, rose petals, nutmeg etc. 

Have you tried it? Do you have any suggestions? Leave your comment!