The mere mention of firni brings t o my mi n d scenes of festivity and celebrations, be it Janmashtrami, Eid, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Diwali and weddings… the list is endless. Every celebration calls for something sweet and the delightful rice pudding always features on the top of the list.
Served chilled, this rich rice and milk dessert is hard to resist and liked by all—young and old, rich and poor of all castes and creeds.
It is traditionally served up in an earthenware bowl, not just because that’s the way it’s always been done. The clay absorbs the excess moisture, keeping the rice pudding firm and creamy. This delectable dessert is one of the many beautiful things that the Mughal dynasty introduced to us.
It is believed to have originated somewhere in the Middle East, but now it is recognised as a dish that belongs to South Asia. The good old firni is now available in many avatars and can be served with toppings of choice.
The different flavours include kesar, badam, mango, coconut, rose and strawberry.
Recently, someone mentioned that a flavour such as blueberry is also served in some of the food joints. But nothing beats homemade firni; the entire process of preparing this dessert from the scratch is enormously satisfying.
This recipe unlike the traditional rich and heavy ones is more health friendly.
I’ve omitted the cream and khoya and opted for toned milk rather than full fat.
So it’s easy on the calories and yet it delivers. Flavourful, creamy and every bit festive. I do insist however to try and get some earthen pots.
The taste of the clay bowls is irreplaceable and the firni would be incomplete without them. I guarantee you will love this dessert… and you can write to thank me. Tejsinghani is the author of Aapplemint, a food, travel and photography blog
1 litre toned milk
● 3 heaped tablespoons of Basmati rice
● 3 tablespoons of sugar (Adjust to your liking)
● 1 tablespoon kewra essence ( You can substitute it with Vanilla or any other essence of your choice)
● Handful of almonds soaked and slivered
● Handful of pistachios soaked and slivered
● 4-5 cardamom pods peeled and powdered
● Few strands of Saffron for garnishing
● Silver warkh (Optional) Begin with soaking the Basmati rice for a few hours— three to four hours should be enough.
If you are using the earthen pots, soak them in a bucket of water overnight.
If not, regular glass bowls would also do just fine.
Coarsely grind the rice, making sure you do not churn it into a paste. Remember the rice will further break on cooking and you do want a little bite to the firni rather than having it taste like custard. Use some of the milk to grind it.
When you have achieved the right consistency, mix it with the remaining milk and pour it in a heavy based saucepan. Start to cook it on medium fire, stirring continuously. When it reaches a boil, add the sugar and kewra essence and further cook it till it begins to thicken and reduces in quantity. Be patient, this could take a while. It shouldn’t be too dry but rather a bit runny. It will further thicken on cooling.
Now mix in most of the prepared dry fruit, leaving some for garnishing.
Bring to room temperature and pour out in the individual bowls and wrap tightly with cling film and chill in the refrigerator till set.
When serving, top up with the remaining almonds, pistachios, cardamom powder and saffron. For that extra bit, you can garnish it with some silver warkh.