Phirni: A Sweet Delicacy From The Streets Of Jama Masjid
Image Credit: Phirni

Any festival is just incomplete without a sweet dish. Do you not agree? The pure satisfaction of enjoying mouth-watering treats with your entire family is an experience that cannot be compared. But every year, the dessert is what really steals the show. Phirni, also known as firni, is a traditional Indian sweet pudding that is cooked slowly and is made with basmati rice, milk, nuts, and sugar. It may also be flavoured with cardamom powder, saffron, or rose water. In North India, it is a must for festive holidays or noteworthy celebrations like Diwali, Ramadan, and the Karwa Chauth Festival. Try my tried-and-true Phirni recipe with illustrated instructions. It will undoubtedly replace your current favourite Indian sweet.

Despite the lack of proof, it is thought that phirni originated in ancient Persia or the Middle East and that the Mughals were responsible for both its invention and introduction to India. The regal milk-based delicacy became well-liked under the Mughal Empire. Studies support the claim that the clay bowls of rich, milky, nutty, and aromatic rice pudding are a Mughal legacy. It was discovered that creamy rice pudding, also known as Sheer Birinj, was utilised as the sustenance of angels in Persia, where Phirni is thought to have originated. When Prophet Muhammad flew to the seventh tier of heaven to encounter God, it was first presented to him.


For Phirni

  • 50 gm Short grain rice (Kolum, Sona masuri), washed & dried 
  • 1 ltr Milk 
  • ½ cup milk 
  • 1 tsp Saffron
  • 100 gm Sugar

For Garnish

  • Almond, sliced 
  • Pistachio, sliced 
  • Dried Rose petals

Method for Preparation

  • Rinse 1/4 cup of rice with water many times.
  • Drain the water very thoroughly, then spread the rice grains out on a tray or plate to dry naturally. You may also use a dish towel to quickly blot the grains dry.
  • Add the dried rice grains to a dry grinder, blender, coffee grinder, or mixer grinder once they are completely dry.
  • Grind until the mixture resembles coarse couscous, cornmeal, or sooji (rava, or fine semolina). Place aside. Avoid making a fine powder.
  • 1 litre of whole milk should be heated in a pan or kadai until it starts to boil.
  • While the milk is heating, place 12 to 15 saffron strands in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of warm milk. Set apart.
  • Keep in mind that you should use more kesar—roughly 25 to 30 saffron strands—if you want your kesar phirni to have more saffron flavours.
  • Add the ground rice as soon as the milk starts to boil.
  • Mix and mix thoroughly.
  • Next, mix in 1/2 cup sugar or more as needed. You can add around 2/3 to 3/4 cups of sugar to make your phirni even sweeter.
  • On low heat, cook the ground rice granules. Stir often to prevent lumps from forming. Add it to the simmering milk and frequently scrape the sides as well. As the rice granules heat, the milk gradually becomes thicker.
  • Add the cardamom powder (six to seven green cardamoms crushed and powdered in a mortar and pestle) and the milk infused with saffron when the rice grains are almost done cooking.
  • Add 10 to 12 sliced blanched almonds and 10 to 12 sliced blanched pistachios (chopped or slivered).
  • The nuts should be soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes before blanching. Remove the water. Slice or chop the fruit after peeling and removing the skins.
  • Pine Nuts or cashews can also be diced and added.
  • Cook firni for an additional 5 to 6 minutes, or until the rice is totally softened or reaches the consistency of creamy pudding. After incorporating the ground rice into the milk, you can simmer it for about 25 minutes on low heat. Remember that it will thicken more as it cools.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of rosewater last. If you don't have rose water, you might want to skip it. Or you might add pandanus water (kewra water).
  • Fill serving bowls with firni. On top, scatter some of the sliced pistachios and almonds that have been blanched.
  • Remember to transfer the phirni into the tiny earthen bowls known as matka or shikora to produce matka phirni.
  • With lids or aluminium foil, tightly cover the bowls. Put them in the fridge for at least four hours once they are cool enough to handle at room temperature.
  • Always consume phirni cold. Therefore, you must wait a few hours before you can taste this delightful sweet pudding. Once it has cooled and hardened, top it with sliced almonds, pistachios, or rose petals before serving.

The most common phirni variations in India are kheer and payasam. While the sinful treat is known as Muhallabia in Egypt and Turkey, the rich pleasure is known as Fereni in Iran.