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Saffron Phirni: A Mughal Delight

Updated on July 15, 2014
Phirni - A North Indian Special Dessert
Phirni - A North Indian Special Dessert | Source
Kesariya Phirni (Saffron Phirni)
Kesariya Phirni (Saffron Phirni) | Source

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Taj Mahal - A Mughal Architectural Marvel - One of the Wonders Of The World
Taj Mahal - A Mughal Architectural Marvel - One of the Wonders Of The World | Source

Dessert Of The Mighty Mughals

We have all heard about the mighty Mughals, their administrative brilliance, their architectural splendor, their glorious lifestyle; all of these hold us in awe and reverence. Truly speaking, Mughal art, culture and heritage contributes a lot to the glorified image of the oriental East in the eyes of the West. Apart from these, what most of us might not be aware is the fact that Mughals were great connoisseurs of a special branch of cuisine known as the Mughlai cuisine, which later became popular to the world as Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine is really grateful to the imperial kitchens (Matbakh) of the Mughal emperors that produced such delicacies as Mughlai Paratha, Seekh Kebab, Biriyani, Tandoori Murg and Rogan Josh to name a few. All these dishes have always seen handsome usage of whole/ground spices and clarified butter, better known as Ghee. Known for their rich aroma and succulent taste, the entire Indian subcontinent including Pakistan and Bangladesh are greatly influenced by Mughlai cuisine.

The full course Mughal meal of the Shahenshas and Badshahs were an elaborate buffet of a wide array of main courses with a huge variety of accompaniments. All of these were estimated to be an average of one hundred varied dishes at every meal. If such was the amount of dishes, we can easily figure out the enormous sizes of these Shahi Rulers. Really everything was larger than life for the mighty Mughals!

Phirni is a creamy rice based pudding that had originated in the Mughal era. Phirni holds a royal position among Mughlai desserts and was always served on special occasions. Since then it is served in the Muslim households of Indian subcontinent on ceremonial purposes just like Payasam is served in every Hindu household on auspicious days. Nowadays Saffron Phirni is a very popular dessert and is available in all authentic Indian restaurants that serves Mughlai dishes. The addition of nuts turns the phirni all the more exotic in appearance and taste.

Ain-i-Akbari - An administrative Document Of The Great Mughal Emperor Akbar (picture above) Gives Us A Detailed Insight Of The Food Habits of the Mughals.
Ain-i-Akbari - An administrative Document Of The Great Mughal Emperor Akbar (picture above) Gives Us A Detailed Insight Of The Food Habits of the Mughals. | Source

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A Phirni-ful Meal

Phirni is usually prepared with some simple as well as with some exotic ingredients. The method of preparation is very easy. Yet after a wholesome Mughlai meal of biriyani or naan and tandoori chicken, an earthen bowl full of phirni as dessert can work wonders. You can prepare phirni in advance and serve later as and when required. The basic ingredient of phirni is powdered rice. I prefer kaljeera rice over basmati rice for its beautiful aroma that is just perfect for this delicious dessert. The flavor of this dish is further enhanced by saffron and green cardamom powder. Various kinds of dry fruits like the pistachios and the almonds are used here. These dry fruits are mostly used in finely grated form. Sugar is also an integral part of this dish. The dessert got its exquisitely sweet taste from handsome usage of sugar.

Originally phirni is served as dessert in an earthen bowl. I think this greatly add to its taste and aroma. Living here in Texas I am unable to procure an earthen bowl so I served my Nutty Saffron Phirni in small dessert bowls that I had in home. If you can manage to get earthen bowl, try using them for better results. I also did not use silver vark for garnishing. You may use it to give your phirni a master's touch. Your phirni will not only taste better but look ten times better than mine.

Eye Candy For All Sweet Lovers
Eye Candy For All Sweet Lovers | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 5 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4th cup Kaljeera Rice
  • 3/4th cup Sugar
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom powder
  • 2 to 3 drops Kewra Water
  • 10 strands Saffron
  • 1/4th cup Pistachios, blanched and sliced
  • 1/4th cup Almonds, blanched and sliced

Instructions

  1. Soak rice in half cup milk for about half an hour and then grind the rice into a fine paste. Keep aside.
  2. Boil milk in a heavy bottom pan. To add flavors to the milk add cardamom powder and saffron to it. The milk will acquire an yellowish tinge due to the addition of saffron.
  3. Add sugar to the boiling milk. Keep on stirring. To balance the taste you can also add a pinch of salt which I usually do. Keep on stirring the milk until it is reduced to half its amount.
  4. Next add the rice paste in the boiling milk. Continue stirring to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.
  5. When it turns into a rich creamy mixture with no lumps add few drops of kewra essence into it. Give a final stir and turn of the heat.
  6. Let it cool for some more time then pour your phirni inside earthen bowls. From top sprinkle cardamom powder, sliced almonds, pistachios and saffron strands. Keep the bowls inside the refrigerator to cool further. When you are ready to eat, serve Saffron Pistachio Almond Phirni in earthen bowls along with dessert spoons and get bombarded with compliments.
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 small dessert bowl
Calories 250
Calories from Fat99
% Daily Value *
Fat 11 g17%
Saturated fat 5 g25%
Carbohydrates 29 g10%
Sugar 12 g
Fiber 3 g12%
Protein 10 g20%
Cholesterol 26 mg9%
Sodium 111 mg5%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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