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.

    Kheer/Rice Pudding and a book review

    ‘Every sentient being has a mind whose fundamental nature is essentially pure…’
    The Dalai Lama

    My faith and belief in this sublime thought is compounded by my beautiful life and the various people that I meet.
    This post brings to you a traditional Indian recipe of the classic North Indian Kheer/Rice pudding and an unbiased review of a fabulous book.

    Some time back I was invited for coffee. The invite was spontaneous, genuine and exhorted such positive vibes that I could not say no. My hosts were a very lovely mother daughter duo who read, write and lead such simple unpretentious lives, that you cannot help but be inspired.

    Rice Pudding

    Rice Pudding

    Sometimes it was books that we spoke about, and at other times the conversation reeled towards spirituality or parenting. The ambience warm and endearing. The talk intelligent, honest and the coffee. Perfect. What more could I ask for?

    A book. A great book.

    We exchange, suggest and review books unofficially for each other. So when I rose to take their leave, the very lovely daughter hands me a book and says “I took this out especially for you”. What a way to bid adieu. I beamed.

    Subtle flavor of cardamom

    Subtle flavor of cardamom

    The Dalai Lama’s Cat is a stunner. To say it is unassumingly preachy, supremely intelligent and endearingly funny, would not be a fabrication.
    The Dalai Lama’s Cat is David Michie’s novel account of life with the Dalai Lama from the perspective of a cat. How Interesting!
    This book offers a sneak peak into a Buddhists life, their simple elevated thoughts and a fresh take on “happiness”. That elusive word, which every human being strives and fights for.

    Can Happiness be conquered? What does it take to become “Wisely Selfish”. David Michie gives a Buddhist’s take on Life and Happiness in such a seamless effortless way, that you learn from the book without being nagged and preached. Buddhist mantra of Love and Compassion to all is beautifully etched in the various rendezvous of His Holiness’s Cat.

    Cashews, saffron in warm milk

    Cashews, saffron in warm milk

    Kheer, a very traditional Indian rice pudding is also known as payasam(in kannada, tamil, telugu and malyalam) or Payesh(in Bengali).
    Typically, rice is boiled in milk, infused with flavors of cardamom, lightly colored by saffron and loaded with assorted nuts. The variations are plenty and the taste, inexplicable. This exquisite sweet dish is usually made on special occasions like on festive days or for poojas.

    Supreme Saffron

    Supreme Saffron

    I love the fragrance and flavor of saffron/Kesar/Zaffran. The inclusiveness of saffron is optional but the slightest addition elevates the dish and takes it to another supreme level. So I would say it is integral to my recipe of kheer.

    Loaded with assorted nuts

    Loaded with assorted nuts

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 1 litre milk, whole or toned, as you please
    • 1.5 tbsp of raw rice, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
    • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
    • 1 pinch of saffron, soaked in a tbsp of warm milk
    • 1/2 cup of assorted nuts, I used almonds, cashews, pistachios and raisins, preferably soaked in little milk
    • 3 tbsp of sugar, change as per your desired level of sweetness

    Method

    In a thick bottomed pan, heat milk. Once it boils, add the raw rice and mix. Keep simmering and stirring all the while till the milk reduces to almost half the quantity. The milk will thicken and gradually stick to the sides. Keep scraping the sides and let the entire mix form into one cohesive thick stew. Add cardamom, saffron(rubbed in warm milk), assorted nuts and sugar towards the end. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes.

    If you like the consistency thin, do not reduce the milk to half, add the sugar-cardamom-saffron-nuts mix earlier and get done with it. We like kheer thick and pudding like, almost that of ‘rabdi’ consistency.

    If you notice I have added very less sugar, the natural sweetness and flavor of milk and dry fruits, along with little bit of sweetner is enough to satiate those saccharine cravings. So, to get maximum flavors and taste, keep the sugar minimum and see the difference.

    We chill the kheer and top it with pistachios and saffron. Each bite is like an almost set rice pudding, loaded with nuts and enhanced by cardamom.
    Heaven, dear readers, Heaven!

    We like it - Chilled

    We like it – Chilled

    The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?
    -Buddha