Kesar Phirni | Firni | Creamy Indian Saffron Rice Pudding


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I had this exotic dessert for the first time at Barbeque Nation, Kolkata. I just loved the dish and I couldn’t stop myself to devour. It has an amazing flavour equally complemented with rich and creamy texture.

I was so impressed with the dessert that I decided to prepare it at home. I have prepared this dish for the first time on my fifth wedding anniversary. As my wedding anniversary is in summer, a bowl of chilled Kesar Firni is more than a treat for each person of the party.

From Diwali to Raksha Bandhan, any occasion is perfect to prepare this dish. This delicious dessert has now become part and parcel of our life in special occasions. My little monster is also one of the main reasons behind this. Kesar Firni is one of the most favourite desserts of my daughter. When I prepare this dessert and serve her, I can see inimitable happiness in her eyes. Before jumping into the recipe, let me share few interesting facts about Phirni / Firni.
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What is the difference between Phirni | Firni and Chawal Ki Kheer?

Not only foreigners, but also many Indians get confused between Firni and Chawal Ki Kheer. Both the desserts are cooked with Rice, Milk, Sugar and some dry fruits and the cooking process is also quite similar. But both tastes completely different from each other.

  • Chawal Ki Kheer is prepared with whole rice whereas Firni is cooked with coarsely grind Basmati rice.
  • Chawal Ki Kheer takes more time to get cooked than Firni.
  • Chawal Ki Kheer is creamy but not smooth for the grainy texture. On the other hand, Firni is smoother, creamier and thicker in texture.
  • Chawal Ki Kheer can be served warm, in room temperature or chilled but Firni is always served chilled.
  • In restaurants and hotels, Chawal Ki Kheer is served in glass bowl or bone china bowl but Firni is always served in earthen bowls.


Types of Phirni | Firni

  • I know it can amaze people, but Firni has more than hundreds of different varieties and each preparation gives you different experience in both taste and flavour.
  • Among these different types - Kesar Firni, Kesar-Pista Firni, Mango Firni, Rose Firni, Coconut Firni and few others are most popular in festive season.

To prepare this iconic dish, I have used full fat Milk which gives better result. It’s a slow cooked dessert but the difficulty level of cooking is low. The key ingredient of the dish to taste best is patience. The Kesar Firni that is prepared with Love tastes best.

For flavouring, I have used few Kesar (Saffron) sticks and a pinch of Cardamom (Elaichi) powder. If you don’t have Cardamom powder, then you can use whole Cardamoms by breaking their heads. But make sure to discard them before serving.

Before adding the Kesar (Saffron) into the Firni, I have soaked them in hot Milk for some time.

I have used aromatic long grain Basmati rice for the dish. First, I have soaked them for some time and then drained the extra water and coarsely grind them. Few people directly grind the rice, but I prefer to rinse them and soak them for some time. According to me, it gives even texture to the rice after grinding.

I have added Raisins and Cashews into this Kesar Firni. You can add any of your preferable dry fruits into the dish like Almonds, Pistachio, Walnut anything. I have used fine white Sugar to sweeten the dish.

I have already shared many Indian festive dessert recipes. You may check few of them like


..And Many more…
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Ingredients:
  • Full cream Milk, 1 Litre
  • ¼ cup of Basmati Rice
  • 15-20 sticks of Saffron (Kesar)
  • ¼ teaspoon Cardamom (Elaichi) powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons Raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Cashews, finely sliced
  • ¾ cup of Sugar, it can vary as per taste



Instructions:
  1. Rinse the Basmati rice and soak them in water for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the water and transfer into a jar of grinder.
  3. Grind them for 30-40 seconds. Grind them to a coarsely ground paste.

    Note: Do not grind Rice to flour. Your Phirni will become sticky and soggy like baby food. It will lose its texture and taste.

  4. On the other side, take the Milk in a heavy bottom pan and bring it to boil.
  5. Once the milk starts boiling, take 3 tablespoons of milk into a separate bowl and soak the Saffron sticks in it.
  6. Put the flame in medium and stir occasionally until the Milk thickens a bit.
  7. Transfer the coarsely ground Rice paste (Step 3) into the pan and mix continuously for some time.

    Note: After adding the Rice paste, it is very important to stir them continuously otherwise it can form lumps.

  8. Cook it in low flame for 10 minutes.
  9. Stir the Milk in regular intervals, otherwise the Milk can stick to the bottom of the pan and lumps may occur.
  10. The Firni will start thickening gradually while the Rice starts getting cooked.
  11. While the Rice gets cooked completely add the Raisins, Cashew nuts and give a nice mix.
  12. Cook them in medium flame for a minute.
  13. Add Sugar and give a nice mix.
  14. Stir it properly and cook it for another couple of minutes in medium low flame.
  15. Add Cardamom powder and mix it well.
  16. Add Saffron milk to the pan and mix it properly.
  17. Cook it in low flame for another 5-7 minutes and switch off the flame.



Serving Instruction
Transfer the Kesar Phirni | Firni into earthen bowls and garnish with sliced Cashews. Serve chilled and enjoy the iconic dessert.

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