Phirni recipe or a chilled bowl of Firni will surely make your day! It’s a popular Pakistani, Indian sweet dish or pudding prepared with soaked and ground basmati rice, milk, sugar, saffron (zafran), seasoned strongly with green cardamom, and rose water (Arq e gulab).
Here I am preparing a traditional eid special zafrani phirni with a perfect creamy and smooth texture topped with pistachios and saffron. Here is step by step phirni recipe with video to make at home.
What is Phirni (Frini)
Phirni or Firni is the delicious and cheerful sweet dish of every house in India and Pakistan and many people know it as firni. Whenever it comes to make a dessert for desi dawat then phirni is on the topmost as people love to have a chilled bowl of this creamy pudding after dinner or lunch.
As it’s a most welcoming sweet dish by masses so different versions are available that people make according to their taste. Zafrani phirni, mango phirni, gulab phirni and Kashmiri style suji phirni are so famous. Here I am making a traditional style Indian phirni recipe that my grandma used to make. It’s a treat for me and my family to enjoy this delectable dessert.
In the Mughal era, phirni was one of the scrumptious sweet dish served as milk rice pudding garnished with dried rose petals and thinly sliced nuts with meals. There are special mud or clay bowls called earthen bowls for serving firni or kheer that make it chilled for a long time. In Iranian cuisine, it’s been famous with Fereni. In middle eastern region, It’s the same as Muhallabia milk pudding.
Making phirni is a slow cooking process that makes it thick and creamy also softens the grain of ground rice simmered in milk enhances the consistency with a smooth pudding texture.
It’s the best recipe that you can make before the time of serving even before a day if you are planning to make it for a party or family get together.
See Also: Semolina Pudding
Basmati Rice: Soaked rice for 8 hours or overnight soaking is good.
Milk: Full fat milk added to make a creamy texture.
Saffron: Dissolve saffron strands in lukewarm milk.
Rosewater: will add rose aroma and flavor.
Khoya (Mawa): It's optional but if used then it will enhance the taste and texture.
Green Cardamom: will add strong sweet and flowery flavor.
Sugar: Brown sugar used. White granulated sugar can also be used.
Khoya (Mawa): It will add a creamy flavor that makes it super tasty.
Nuts: Used roasted almonds and pistachios to garnish the firni. Nuts can be added to firni mix while cooking.
How To Make Phirni
Properly wash basmati rice and soak overnight to soften the rice grain. After soaking, fully drain the water and let it dry at room temperature. As the rice dried then coarsely ground using the grinder. You can dry the rice at room temperature or keep it under the fan.
In the meanwhile, add saffron strands in a cup of milk and let it dissolve for 5 to 10 minutes.
In a pan, add milk and let it boil. Now add soaked rice in boiling milk and quickly stir to avoid any lumps. Continuously stir the pan on low heat until the rice becomes soft and fluffy and makes a thick creamy texture. Then add saffron milk, sugar, cracked cardamom seeds or powder, khoya, and rose water. Give it a good mix to make a homogenous texture. Monitor the thickness of phirni, if it seems semi thick then remove from heat and quickly pour in the bowl to maintain a smooth texture.
Garnish with pistachios and almonds! As the phirni comes at room temperature then keep in the refrigerator to get chilled bowls right before serving.
In Indian and Pakistani cuisine, chilled "Phirni bowls have special placement in dining and people love to try this sweet dessert. I personally love to serve at Ramadan iftar and Eid dinner is incomplete without firni.
- Make sure to use the right proportions of milk and rice otherwise the phirni might be runny or hard. If it’s runny then cook it more on slow heat. Continuously stir the pan with a rubber spatula while cooking as the milk and rice have a tendency to stick at the bottom which will add a burned flavor.
- Carefully select the pot to make firni. Stainless Steel pots are good!! If you are making in a nonstick pan then make sure to stir as sugar with milk can stick to the pan.
- To add sugary flavor in firni, brown sugar, white granulated sugar or jaggery can be used.
- Full fat cow milk is good to make phirni.
- Khoya or mawa is added to make a super creamy texture of phirni. Condensed milk can also be used or you can skip both if you are using creamy milk.
- Don’t make firni with skimmed milk until or unless are advised to have skimmed milk.
- Double the quantity of saffron if you are making zafrani phirni. It has slight yellow and light brown shade.
- If you don’t have rose water (arqe gulab) then use kewra essence.
- Use your favorite nuts in phirni mixture or for topping.
How To Store
It’s easy to store leftover bowls in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 days. If it’s hard or seems so thick then you can reheat in preheat pan by adding milk. It will be prepared like fresh phirni. Don’t freeze it as it will release water after defrosting.
I personally fill a glass container with leftover phirni and store in refrigerator for later use.
Traditionally Phirni is served in earthy bowls as it adopts an earthy aroma that makes it chilled and moist. If you don’t have clay bowls then simply serve in a glass or ceramic bowls and keep in the refrigerator to get chilled. Firni is the whitish sweet dish that needs to be garnished with nuts to make it tempting. I love to garnish with ground pistachios and roasted almonds that add color and make it exciting to eat. Added a few saffron strands at top of serving bowls go well with green pistachios and creamy firni.
Many people have questions to serve phirni hot or chilled. It’s a chilled dessert recipe! Kheer can be served hot but firni is usually served in a chilled bowl.
Q & A
How to Differentiate Phirni and Kheer?
At first glance, it’s difficult to differentiate kheer and phirni. After taking a bite, you can easily make a difference as phirni prepares with ground rice while the kheer cooks with whole rice grains.
Which rice are best to make Phirni?
Basmati rice is good to make firni due to its aroma and taste. Alternatively use jasmine rice or any other sticky rice. If you are making it with brown rice then the taste will be different.
How to Make Zafrani Phirni?
Double or triple the quantity of saffron strands in milk if you are making zafrani phirni. Simmer the milk on low heat with coarsely ground rice by adding sugar, cardamom powder, and nuts. Skip rosewater or kewra if making zafrani firni.
What is Mango Phirni?
It's a flavored phirni with mango flavor. Fresh mango puree added in milk rice cooking. Overall the recipe will remain same.
What is Gulab Phirni?
Add dried Gulab petals, arq-e-gulab when simmering rice and ground rice. Some people add Gulab syrup which is totally optional and up to your taste. Dried gulab petals have a strong flavor and aroma to infused in creamy rice milk executes light pink color.
Can I make it vegan?
Yes, you can! Simply replace milk with almond milk and don’t add other dairy ingredients. Basmati rice is vegan!
Is Phirni Healthy?
Absolutely healthy! Prepared with milk which contains vitamins A, D, and calcium. Rice produces carbs that need to improve energy levels. Rice is gluten-free and the best source of protein. To make it more healthy, replace white sugar with brown sugar or jaggery. Good for kids!
Is it Pakistani Firni Recipe?
Well, firni is famous in India and Pakistan and more or less the method and recipe are same. Pakistani firni recipe is near to my heart as I grew up eating this. It's a traditional firni recipe that my mother used to make. Now people are adding condensed milk, cream and other ingredients to make firni which is also good but this one is the original firni recipe of old times.
Can I make Phirni with Rice Flour?
Yes, you can make phirni with rice flour. It will be fully smooth in texture. Mix the rice flour in milk and give it a good mix. Let it rest for 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, boil the milk and add rice flour milk mixture in boiling milk and quickly stir to avoid lumps. Let it cook for few minutes on medium heat. As it starts getting thick then add sugar, cardamom powder, and rose water. Khoya and condensed milk will add more flavor but it totally optional to add. Mix all the ingredients and let it cook for a few minutes to get a semi-thick texture.
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Phirni Recipe (Firni)
- ¼ cup Basmati Rice
- 20 strands Saffron (Zafran)
- 1 L Milk
- ½ cup sugar (white/brown)
- 1 cup Khoya optional
- 8 pods Green cardamom seeds
- ½ teaspoon Rosewater (Arq e gulab)
- 1 tablespoon Almonds
- 1 tablespoon Pistachios
- Preparation of Rice: Properly wash basmati rice until it become clean and soak overnight to soften the rice grain.
- After soaking, fully drain the water and let it dry at room temperature. As the rice dried then coarsely ground using the grinder.
- Preparation of Saffron milk: add saffron strands in a cup of lukewarm milk and let it dissolve for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Phirni Cooking: In a pan, add milk and let it boil. Now add soaked rice in boiling milk and quickly stir to avoid lumps formation.
- Continuously stir the pan on low heat until the rice becomes soft and fluffy and makes a thick creamy texture.
- Then add saffron milk, sugar, cracked cardamom seeds or powder, khoya, and rose water. Give it a good mix to make a homogenous texture.
- Cook on low heat and monitor the thickness of phirni, if it seems semi thick then remove from heat and quickly pour in the bowl to maintain a smooth texture.
- Garnish with pistachios and almonds! As the phirni comes at room temperature then keep in the refrigerator to get chilled bowls right before serving.
- Rice and milk proportions need to be balanced to make a perfect phirni texture. If milk is more than water then the firni might be runny and if the milk is less then it becomes hard. So make sure everything is well balanced to get the creamy and smooth texture of firni.
- Use a rubber spatula to stir the firni while cooking.
- The stainless steel pan is ideal to cook phirni.
- During cooking, make sure the firni should not stick to the bottom as it will leave a burnt taste.
- To add sugary flavor in phirni, brown sugar, white granulated sugar or jaggery can be used.
- Full fat cow milk is good to make phirni. If making gluten-free then add almond milk. Alternatively, condensed milk can be used.
- Double the quantity of saffron if you are making zafrani phirni. It has slight yellow and light brown shade. If you don’t have rose water (arqe gulab) then use kewra essence.
- Use your favorite nuts in phirni mixture or just used to serve on top.