Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Firni - Pakistani Rice Pudding

Rice puddings are part of quite a few cuisines around the world. Be it Thailand, UK, Iran, Bangladesh, Norway, Egypt, Puerto Rico or Pakistan. Everyone has their own versions of rice puddings prepared with the local ingredients. Thais make theirs with coconut milk and serve it with mango, Iranians make it with saffron infused milk, Danish add butter and cinnamon to their rice pudding and serve it on Christmas eve & the Egyptians make it with nutmeg and rosewater.

It seems all around the world including Pakistan, joyous occasions are celebrated with some version of rice pudding on the table. Pakistan has two variations of rice puddings. One is called Kheer which is heavy and creamy. The other one is called Firni which is lighter and thinner in texture. 

Both types of rice puddings are cooked for the wedding feasts or for the festivals of Eid. Kheer is usually cooked in winters while firni is cooked during long summers and served cold in small earthen bowls called thootis. I have a preference for Firni and love to make it on the festivals of Eid. 

Milk – 1 liter (full cream)
Evaporated milk – 250 ml
Basmati Rice – ¾ cup (Grounded to powder/fine granules)
Sugar – ½ cup
Green Cardamom – 4
Kewra water/Orris Water  - 2 tsp (also called screwpine essence or Pandan essence)
Slivered almonds –  50 gms
Pistachio – 50 gms (finally chopped, unsalted)

  1. Wash the basmati rice with cold water 3 times. Drain water and put the rice on a kitchen paper to dry. Leave them in sun for an hour or leave them overnight in the kitchen to dry completely. Then in a coffee or spice grinder, grind the rice along with 4 green cardamoms to tiny granules cum powder form.
  2. Boil the milk in a pan and add the powdered/granulated rice. Once it starts boiling lower the heat and let it cook for 6-7 mins.
  3. Now add evaporated milk and cook for another 5 mins. The objective here is to cook the rice thoroughly without drying too much liquid.
  4. Now add sugar and mix. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or till rice is completely cooked and the milk is 3/4th of the original quantity.
  5. The mixture should be thick like custard and should cover the back of the spoon. (See the photo)
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for 10 mins.  Firni will start becoming thick as it cools down. Now add 2 tsp of kewra water and mix.
  7. Allow is to cool completely and refrigerate it in a plastic container.
  8. Once the firni is chilled, spoon it in to serving bowls. Top with slivered almonds and chopped pistachios. Serve chilled.

The evaporated milk can be replaced with condensed milk. In that case the sugar quantity needs to be reduced as condensed milk is far sweeter than evaporated milk.  
Also you can try using rose water if kewra water is not available. I would love to use edible silver for garnish if available.  
Firni can be made a day in advance. It can sit in the fridge for 2-3 days as well. 

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