Firni: A Pakistani rice-pudding that is a must have this Eid!

Published: May 8, 2016
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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 and the Egyptians make it with nutmeg and rosewater. PHOTO: AMBREEN MALIK

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 local ingredients. In Thailand, they make theirs with coconut milk and serve it with mango. In Iran, it is made with saffron infused milk. The Danish add butter and cinnamon to their rice pudding and serve it on Christmas Eve and the Egyptians make it with nutmeg and rosewater.

It seems joyous occasions in Pakistan, as well as all around the world, 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 wedding feasts or for the celebration of Eid. Kheer is usually cooked in winter while Firni is cooked during long summer months and is served chilled in small earthen bowls called thootis. I have a preference for Firni and love to make it on festivals, especially on Eid.

Ingredients:

Milk – 1 litre (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 (It is also called Screwpine essence or Pandan essence)

Slivered almonds – 50 g

Pistachio – 50 g (finally chopped, unsalted)

Steps:

1. Wash the basmati rice with cold water thrice. Drain the water and put the rice on a kitchen paper to dry. Leave them under the 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 four 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 six to seven minutes.

3. Now add evaporated milk and cook for another five minutes. The objective here is to cook the rice thoroughly without drying too much liquid.

4. Now add sugar and mix. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or till the 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 above photo).

6. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes. The Firni will start thickening as it cools down. Add two tablespoons of kewra water and mix it.

7. Allow it to cool completely and refrigerate the mix in a plastic container.

8. Once the Firni is chilled, transfer it 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 quantity of sugar needs to be reduced as condensed milk is far sweeter than evaporated milk. You can also 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 two to three days as well.

All photos: Ambreen Malik

This post originally appeared here.

Ambreen Malik

Ambreen Malik

The author is a Microfinance Banker, food blogger, LSE Alum and a dragon in training. She tweets as @ambreen_malik (twitter.com/ambreen_malik)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • vinsin

    Eating Firni is against TNT.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KheerRecommend

  • indiandude

    Firni: A Pakistani rice-pudding…funny. Firni existed in India before 1947.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Duranai

    Firni and “a Pakistani rice pudding” really? Firni existed before Pakistan actually came to being. Firni must have come from Khorasan (Afghanistan, Iran, some of Central Asian countries) and most probably it was taken to India by Afghans.
    It is called Firni in Central Asian countries which is a Dari-Parsi word and the Indian version is Kheer.Recommend

  • Nasser

    Its not only a Pakistani recipe.Its a common Indian dish also particularly in muslim households. Recommend

  • Ayesha Khan

    Firni is healthy and tasty at the same time and it is a food well known in Asians especially in Pakistan , India and Bangladesh. Its just like Rice as we also eat rice a lot, and can u plss tell me can we use some specific rice like super kernel basmati rice or we can use any brand ?Recommend

  • bab-e-azadi

    Relax, people. This recipe is a sad facsimile of firni, anyway. You can have this version. The true Pakistani version is only found in smaller cities these days.Recommend

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    Basmati rice in pakistanRecommend