I like to think of Phirni as a sophisticated cousin of the Payasam. Also known as Kheer, Kheeri, Payesh, Payox, Payasam, Phirni is a sweet dish and a type of wet pudding, usually made by boiling milk, sugar or jaggery, and rice, although rice is sometimes substituted with dals, tapioca or vermicelli. It is typically flavoured with desiccated coconut, cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds, or other dry fruits and nuts and is typically served as a dessert. The word kheer is derived from the Sanskrit word for milk, ksheer and is also the archaic name for sweet rice pudding. The difference as I see between kheer or payasam and phirni is that payasam has whole rice grains cooked in it while Phirni has powdered rice, usually, Basmati added to it. Tasting great both hot and cold, we prefer it cold, but this is a personal preference.
¼ cup basmati rice
1-litre full cream milk
½ cup sugar or as required
10 to 12 almonds, blanched and peeled, keep about a tbsp for garnishing
10 to 12 pistachios, blanched and peeled, keep about a tbsp for garnishing
½ tsp cardamom powder
A large pinch of saffron strands
2 tsp rose water
Rinse the basmati rice a couple of times in water. Drain the water and dry the rice by spreading them on a tray or plate. Let the rice dry completely and keep it aside.
Grind the rice in a grinder till the consistency resembles fine semolina or couscous and keep the ground rice aside.
In a small bowl, add the nuts, add boiling water to it and keep aside for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, drain the water and let the nuts cool slightly. Peel the nuts and slice or chop them finely and keep them aside. Keep aside about 1 tbsp each of the almonds and pistachios for the garnish.
Heat milk in a thick-bottomed broad pan.
When the milk starts to boil, take 1 tbsp of the milk into a small bowl, add in the saffron strands and stir it until the saffron dissolves and the milk becomes a lovely orange colour.
Let the milk in the pan reach a rolling boil, lower the heat and add the ground rice. Stir and add the sugar.
Cook the ground rice in the milk on low to medium heat on the pan with the pan uncovered and keep stirring at intervals so that the milk is completely lump-free.
Add In the cardamom powder, almonds, pistachios, cardamom powder and saffron-infused milk.
Stir and cook for another five minutes, or a bit more until the Phirni thickens and the rice granules are softened and cooked completely.
Switch off the flame and drizzle the rose water.
Garnish it with the reserved chopped nuts and cover tightly and let the Phirni cool down.
Once the Phirni is cool, refrigerate until it becomes cold and serve cold as a dessert. It should stay for 2-3 days in the fridge, but I doubt it will last that long!
Happy New Year!! Here’s wishing you all loads of good fortune, luck and blessings in 2022. May this year bring back all the joy and happiness that we missed over the last two years.
And to start the new year here’s a sweet recipe to start the year on a sweet note.
Sometime back, during the festive season, I was on a call with my mother and we were discussing sweets, specifically the payasam we make during most festivals. I was telling her I was looking to make something new and different from the usual vermicelli or Dal payasam I usually made. She shared with me this recipe, which is simple, does not use milk and is really rich. I made it and it was a huge hit at home with requests to make it again. So I am sharing this with you too.
Coconut Moong Dal Payasam
1 cup grated coconut
1 tbsp rice
2 tbsp Moong Dal
2 cups Jaggery
Water as required
1 tbsp ghee
A pinch of cardamom powder
Dry roast the rice and moong dal until the dal starts to become a golden brown. At this point, remove from the fire and keep aside to cool down.
When cool, blend it to a powder and in the same blend, add the grated coconut and with a bit of water, blend it to a smooth paste. Make sure the paste is as smooth as possible.
Halve the cashewnuts and Keep aside.
In a pan, heat the ghee and fry the cashewnuts to a golden brown colour. Keep aside.
In the same pan, fry the raisins till they plump up and keep aside.
In the same pan, mix the coconut paste with 3 times as much water and boil the mixture in a low to medium flame.
In the meantime, finely chop the jaggery till it comes to about twice as much as the coconut paste. When the coconut water mixture is at a nice rolling boil, add the jaggery and continue to stir so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Continue boiling for about 5 minutes after it reaching a rolling boil and at this point add in the cardamom powder, raisins and cashew nuts.
Switch off the flame, let it cool slightly and serve.
It is delicious served hot and cold. Also note that as the payasam cools down, it will also thicken a bit more, so don’t be too worried if it’s thinner than what you expected.
The day S was supposed to fly off for his Sabarimala pilgrimage, I wanted to send him off with something sweet. Since he was flying in the morning, I also wanted to make something quick. This Badam Kaju Kheer is that perfect recipe.
Badam Kaju Kheer or Almond Cashew Pudding
1 litre full cream milk
5-6 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 pinches saffron strands
1 tbsp ghee
Soak the almonds and cashew nuts in hot water for 15-20 minutes. When they cool, peel the nuts and keep aside.
Chop around 5 each of almonds and cashew into slivers and keep aside.
Blend the balance nuts together with some milk to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
Boil the milk in a pan and when it comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat and stir for around 10 minutes to thicken the milk.
Add the sugar and the almond cashew paste and stir well. Let it come to a rolling boil.
Now add the saffron strands and cardamom powder and stir well. Remove from the fire and keep aside.
In a small skillet, add the ghee and the slivered nuts and stir until the nuts are brown. When the nuts turn brown, drain from the ghee and garnish the pudding with the nuts and some strands of saffron.
Have this hot or cold, but I feel cold is better as it tends to thicken some more. If you find the pudding too thick for your taste, dilute it with some milk.