Everything good sees a start with sugar rush in India; lovely sweet beginnings! For the first post on my new shiny blog, what could be better than a sweet treat that would also pave my way into this month’s JFI – Coconut event hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought?
Phirni is a ’kheer’ like pudding made primarily with milk, rice and sugar. This basic pudding is so versatile, I think, that you can flavor it and dress it up to suit your fancy. Some traditional phirni flavors are Saffron (Kesar Phirni), Mango Phirni, Badam (Almond) Phirni, Rose Phirni (yes, flavored with rose water/rose jam and garnished with rose petals). Check out Ashwini’s wonderful post about Rose Phirni with interesting insight into the history of its origin.
One of my favorite flavors of this smooth velvety dessert is with Almonds. I also happen to love Almond-Coconut combination, so no points for guessing what came out of that! Yes, Coconut-Almond Phirni. So, there I went, wandering off into my kitchen, imagining the two great flavors blending into a smooth, rich pudding and got to work. Traditionally, phirni is not part of South Indian cuisine and I had no idea about this dessert growing up. So, I felt free to experiment with it and I must say it turned out pretty real good! Read on for the recipe.
- 4 cups milk (I used organic, 2% fat)
- ½ cup coconut milk (homemade or a good variety, store bought)
- ¾ cup sugar *
- 2 tbsp basmati rice **
- ½ cup raw almonds
- ½ cup of fresh grated coconut
- 2-3 pods of green cardamom, peeled and crushed
- A few flakes of toasted coconut for garnish
- Soak almonds in plenty of water for 5-6 hours. You can also soak them in boiling water for about an hour
- Wash and soak the rice separately for about an hour
- Peel the almonds and grind with coconut and soaked rice to a smooth paste
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the milk and bring it to a gentle boil
- Add sugar and slowly incorporate the ground coconut-rice-almond paste, continuously whisking the mixture to avoid any lumps
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes thick
- Add crushed cardamom and coconut milk. Mix well to combine
- Take off the heat and let it cool. Chill in the refrigerator for a good 4-6 hours
- Serve garnished with flakes of toasted coconut. Enjoy!
* I use Florida Crystals Organic sugar. Since this is not ‘white’ sugar, it added a very faint color to the phirni
** Rice is used mainly as a thickening agent in this dessert. I prefer a runny consistency than a denser one, so I used 2 tbsp of rice. If you’d like a denser, thicker phirni, use about 3-4 tbsp of rice.