Phirni- Serves 6
Wishing all my readers a very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New year! “Diwali” is the Hindu New Year and is also know as the Festival of Lights. It stands for the triumph of good over evil, truth over falsehood, and light over darkness. Per the Hindu calendar, this year Diwali falls on November 13th.
In our home, Diwali is celebrated by cleaning every nook and cranny in the house, making lots of delicious food and desserts, lighting lamps (“diyas”), wearing new clothes, bursting firecrackers, and, exchanging gifts with family and friends. At the entrance of the door, we hang a lantern (“kandeel”) to help show “Laxmi” the Hindu goddess of wealth, the path to our homes.
It is believed that “Laxmi” the Hindu Goddess of wealth and prosperity comes to every home on “Diwali” night. To welcome her, houses are cleaned, “rangoli” is set up by the front door with plenty of lights, sweets are prepared and families pray to Goddess Laxmi in the evenings. The lights signify the victory of good over evil in every human being.
On this festive and joyous occasion, I am sharing one of my favorite North Indian desserts known as “Phirni”. “Phirni” is a ground rice pudding where rice is first ground to a fine paste, then simmered in whole milk and thickened, flavored with cardamom powder and Kewra essence. Kewra essence is an extract distilled from Pandanus flowers used to flavor drinks and Indian desserts. Just a couple of drops of this essence really rounds up the dish well! I have adapted this recipe from Nita Mehta’s cookbook “Punjabi Cooking”. I would like to thank my friend Sherri of Sherrykellyphotography for taking the pictures for this post.
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup white basmati rice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 teaspoon ground green cardamom powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kewra essence (available at your local Indian grocery store)
- 6 to 7 almonds, sliced
- 6 to 7 pistachio, sliced
- 1 small sheet of edible silver paper “Varq”
- few rose petals to decorate
Wash and clean rice. Soak rice for at least an hour in a little water.
Drain the rice and grind with 5 tablespoons of water to a fine and smooth paste. Mix the rice paste with 1/2 cup milk and make it thinner and keep aside.
Mix the rice paste with the remaining 3 cups milk in a clean, heavy bottomed pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously and let it boil. Boil, stirring constantly for 8 to 10 minutes more or till you get a mixture of creamy consistency.
Add sugar, cardamom powder and mix well for a few seconds.
Remove from fire and add the kewra essence. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into 6 small silver or earthen bowls.
Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or until cold. At the time of serving, decorate each bowl with edible silver paper, few almonds and pistachios, and rose petals. Enjoy!