Gulab Phirni / Rose Rice Pudding with fresh Fruits

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
– Henri Matisse

Gulab Phirni

Gulab Phirni

When the occasion is pious. The mood festive. The spirit convivial. The ambience contagious. And the mind, harmonious – it is then, we make something sweet.

It’s exactly in these times, we don’t squirm to eat a cupful of our favourite dessert and amiably let our loved ones stuff our mouth with saccharine stuff. We relish every bite, enjoy every moment. It’s for these times that I reserve my quota of desserts or Indian mithais/sweets.

Colour

Colour

On one such radiant day, I put milk to boil, stirred in some ground fragrant basmati rice and lovingly flavoured it with cardamom, rose essence and saffron. Sounds divine, doesn’t it!?

The milk and rice simmered and nonchalantly thickened away, gloriously dancing with the aromatic spices. The result was this thick rice pudding, mildly sweet and abundantly gratified with chopped nuts and essence of roses.

Layered into Jars!

Layered into Jars!

Phirni or Firni is a mughal inspired North Indian/Pakistani milk-rice dessert, typically set in small clay pots and garnished with saffron and rose petals! How exotic does it sound!

A bit of pink

A bit of pink

So, I was calling for some flowers, marigold and jasmine to be exact, required to decorate my little temple. But then added a few roses at the last moment. Soon, my house emanated such dizzy whiffs of flowers, cardamom and boiled sweetened milk, that the effect made everyone say “whats cooking?” 🙂

A thing of beauty if joy forever

A thing of beauty if joy forever

He never cared for roses, still doesn’t. But I have a special affinity towards them. Roses are the ultimate romantic meridian of my firm belief in hope and love. And when I set up my shoot area with props and phirni cups and jars, the flowers hold a special place.

They brought such joy and beauty that John Keats ‘Endymion’ kept popping in my head. I played with the colours, the placements. I took innumerable shots(which were not so pleasurable when I sat down to edit 😉 ) The little girl danced about offering me any assistance that I called for. I was in my own space.. a very happy space indeed. It seems weird how something so trivial and ephemeral can lift my spirits and make me dream incredible dreams if only for some fleeting spell.

Garnish with rose petals

Garnish with rose petals

A couple of teaspoons of rose-water or essence and tiny petals from the roses take this dessert to really another realm. It’s not the taste of the petal though …it’s the perfume from the flower that lingers on your taste buds and make the entire ensemble so inviting.

Add freshness with fruits

Add freshness with fruits

I served the rice pudding with chopped fresh fruits green apples, pomegranate and orange segments. I wish had some berries, I can only imagine the tartness and all that juice from the colourful berries complimenting the cardamom and saffron!

Ideal party desserts

Ideal party desserts

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 1/4 cup basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
  • a few strands of saffron, soaked in 2 tsp of milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar or as desired
  • pods of 1 cardamom – ground/powdered
  • 1/2 cup of chopped nuts like pistachios, almonds, cashew nuts
  • 2-3 drops of rose essence or 1 tbsp of rose water
  • 2 tbsp rose petals, I used the Indian rose, which has small thin natural petals. If the petals are huge, then chop or gently tear to smaller bits.
  • A cup of chopped fresh fruits to serve with
  • Method

    Grind soaked rice to a rava like consistency. Use few drops of milk if required. Keep aside. Heat milk in a thick bottomed pan or kadai. When it starts boiling away, lower the flame and stir in the ground rice. On a low flame, cook the ground rice in milk till it starts to thicken.

    It is imperative to stir in intervals to prevent burning and from lumps being formed. Once the rice is cooked and the mixture has thickened considerably, stir in sugar, saffron strands and ground cardamom. Add chopped nuts. Simmer again for a while. Once done. Add rose-water or essence. Give it a good mix. Cool the pudding. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

    Serve with rose petals, chopped nuts and fresh fruits.

    Thick creamy delicious pudding

    Thick creamy delicious pudding

    Note: Fruits like apples, banana, pomegranate, oranges, berries, kiwi, custard apple go very well with phirni.

    Make some, you won't regret

    Make some, you won’t regret

    This creamy dreamy dessert goes to Angie’s 31st Friday Fiesta – a weekly Visual Potluck.

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    To Santa with love – Strawberry Cake

    To Santa, with Love

    To Santa, with Love

    I love winters. My most favorite season. I love December. My most favorite month.
    And a wintery december brings with it a host of festivities. Tis the season of weddings(in India). Tis the time to shop till you drop. Tis the month of Christmas. Tis the month of Santa!

    From the time I have been told about good old Santa Claus, I have believed in him. I still do. I believe in this incredible concept of hope and joy.

    Children hope that Santa would true their innermost desires. We also do something similar, albeit a tad differently. We hope for some surreal magic in our daily lives that would elevate and give wings to our wants.
    It is this exact faith that makes a child dream and aspire. He dreams, hence he achieves. So in effect am I saying Santa has a huge role in shaping your child’s future? Er… Not exactly..but what I am trying to say is – Santa is important. It is more important to believe in him than discuss the validity of his existence.
    So go ahead tell your child about good old Santa Claus. Tell them about his gift decisive lists, the elves, the North Pole, his sleigh, about Rudolph.. let those little eyes fill with wonder, those spirits soar, let those hearts fill with hope and everlasting joy. Let.
    This post is dedicated to Santa Claus.

    Joinin in the festivities :)

    Joinin in the festivities 🙂

    The quintessential red and white needs to be emulated. So what better than strawberries and cream. Oh! such a classic combination. And its Christmas! So cake has to be there too. So what do you get when you throw in cake, strawberries and cream – ah, no rocket science this. Strawberry Cake you fellas! 🙂

    Strawberries and Cream - can't go wrong with these two!

    Strawberries and Cream – can’t go wrong with these two!

    As I sieved, added and mixed, the incessant chatter of my 6 year old was on. Her innumerable queries on anything remotely to Santa, Christmas, trees and gifts was already putting me in a tizzy. So, to rest the chatterbox a while, I invented a story. This spur-of-the-moment-thought-of story which had Santa as a super hero had my little girl transfixed, her imagination on fire and the tongue firmly in place. 🙂

    There is no thing like "extra" cream ;)

    There is no thing like “extra” cream 😉

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup all purpose flour/maida
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 cup butter or oil
    • 1/2 cup sugar (use a little bit less than 1/2 a cup)
    • 1/2 cup curds
    • 1/4 tsp strawberry essence
    • 2 drops vanilla essence
    • milk, as required

    For the icing:

    • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
    • 1/2 cup of sugar water – mix 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1/2 cup water
    • 1 cup of whipping or any heavy cream – sweetened.

    Method

    Preheat the oven at 200C for 8-10 minutes. Till then, sieve the flour, baking powder and soda. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar till smooth. I usually add little by little to ensure a smooth uniform paste. Then using a tablespoon, alternate between curds and flour, that is, pour curds, mix. Then flour. Mix. Do till you finish the given quantities of curds and flour. If the batter is too thick, then add a few tablespoons of milk and mix to make a smooth batter. Add both the essences. Give it a final whirl. Pour the batter in a greased tin. Bake at 170C for at least 25 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick at the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, then the cake is done. If not, then bake for a couple of more minutes till the cake is uniformly baked.

    Remove the tin, cool.

    Icing:

    Whip the cream till you get soft peaks. Slice the cake horizontally using a sharp long blade knife. On the bottom portion, sprinkle some sugar water. Place a semi thick layer of cream on the base. Top with sliced strawberries. Now keep the sliced portion on the creamed strawberry topped base. Repeat the process. If desired you could apply cream on the sides too. Chill for atleast 30 minutes before serving it.

    Serving Suggestion: Serve every slice with more cream and strawberries!

    Yummy bite

    Yummy bite

    Note: The intermittent additions of the ingredients combined with the mixing of the batter, ensures it a smooth, knot free batter. I have found this to be a never-fail technique when baking eggless. It makes the cake lighter and airier.

    Note: If you do not have heavy cream or whipped cream, use a toned lighter cream(like Amul in India), whip the lighter cream in a bowl placed on a bed of ice of another bowl. This helps the light cream to gain some volume and body.

    Note: Top with as much strawberries as you can. It is never too much. The sweet and the tart and the cream … ooh! so delicious!

    We love you Santa

    We love you Santa

    That night she wanted to leave a slice by the tree. I let her.

    But then, when she was fast asleep, dreaming and living her fancies, is when I tiptoed to the little tree, relished half the slice, refrigerated the rest.  There! done. I just had to be up before her and place the  half eaten slice back near the tree. 🙂

    Everyone needs a Santa in their life. I’m hers.

    Merry Christmas!!

    Merry Christmas!!

    Merry Christmas my lovely readers! Merry Christmas.