Phirni also called as firni is a classic Indian sweet pudding that is a must in North India on festive occasions or special celebrations like Diwali as well as for Karwa Chauth Festival. Try my classic and traditional Phirni recipe and I am sure it will become your new favorite Indian sweet.
What is Phirni
Phirni is a thick and creamy pudding made from ground rice. To make the simplest and yet the best phirni recipe all you need is rice, milk, sugar, nuts and saffron.
Slow cooking is the key to make a perfect phirni. The ground rice granules are slow cooked in milk to a creamy and thick consistency.
Phirni has a lovely aroma from the basmati rice and using aromatic ingredients like saffron, rose water or cardamom powder. Adding nuts like almonds or pistachios make it more rich and flavorful.
Firni is traditionally served in small earthen bowls called as Shikoras. These earthen bowls absorb the extra moisture and liquids and make it more thicker. They also infuse the rice pudding with an earthy aroma.
Difference between Phirni and Rice Kheer
While at the looks of it, though both phirni and rice kheer look similar, they are actually made differently. Phirni is made from ground rice, while Rice Kheer is made from whole rice grains.
A good quality basmati rice is the preferred rice to make both firni as well as rice kheer. While making phirni recipe it is important to grind the rice well.
Addition of saffron strands or rose petals add a nice flavor and aroma to the dish. Phirni is always eaten chilled whereas rice kheer can be had warm or cold.
Both phirni and rice kheer are my family favorites and I often end up making these on festive occasions.
How to make Phirni Recipe
1. Rinse ¼ cup basmati rice a couple of times in water. Drain well and let the rice grains dry on their own on a tray/plate or you can even wipe the grains dry with a kitchen towel.
When the rice grains are thoroughly dried, grind them in a dry grinder, blender or coffee grinder, until the consistency is coarse – resembling sooji (rava or fine semolina) or corn meal or couscous. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 litre whole milk in a sauce pan or kadai till it begins to boil.
3. Whilst the milk is heating, take one tbsp of warm milk in a small bowl and dissolve 12 to 15 saffron strands in it.
4. When the milk begins boiling, add the ground rice. Stir.
5. Next add ½ to ¾ cup sugar or as required and stir again.
6. Cook the rice on a low flame. Keep on stirring often so that lumps do not form. Also, scrape the sides often and add it to the simmering milk. The below photo is 7 minutes after adding sugar.
7. The milk thickens gradually as the rice grains get cooked. The below photo shows the consistency in the next 6 minutes.
8. When the rice is almost cooked, add the cardamom powder (6 to 7 green cardamom crushed and powdered in mortar-pestle), the saffron infused milk and 16 to 18 blanched sliced almonds.
9. Cook firni for a further 5 to 6 minutes or until you get a creamy pudding like consistency. Keep in mind that on cooling it will thicken more.
I cooked for about 25 mins on a low heat after I added the ground rice into the milk. Pour firni in serving bowls. Sprinkle some sliced almonds on the top.
Cover the bowls with lids or aluminum foil. When they become cool at room temperature, keep them in the fridge.
Phirni is always eaten cold. So you have to wait for some hours to enjoy this delicious sweet pudding. When phirni is set and chilled, garnish with some sliced almonds or rose petals and serve.
- Fresh fruits: Pureed or grated fruits make a wonderful addition to your classic phirni. Add grated apples to make apple phirni. Add mango puree to make a delish Mango Phirni. Fruits like strawberries and lychee also make delicious variations.
- Sweeteners: For a rose scented phirni, add gulkand (rose petals preserve) instead of sugar. For a rustic version, replace sugar with jaggery or palm sugar. When the rice granules are softened and the phirni has been thickened – set it aside for 5 minutes. Then add jaggery or palm sugar.
Tips + FAQs
While fragrant basmati rice add so much in terms of aroma in a phirni, you can easily replace it with any fragrant rice (non-sticky) or a regular white rice.
Yes definitely. You can skip saffron but you will need to add some flavoring ingredient in the phirni recipe. Choose from cardamom powder or rose water or kewra water (screw pine water).
Yes you could do that. Once your phirni is cooked set it aside for 5 minutes. Then add chopped jaggery and mix thoroughly.
To make a vegan phirni recipe, you have to cook the ground rice in water first just like you would cook any other rice. Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Then add almond milk in parts, keeping on stirring until you get the thick creamy consistency.
For cooking ¼ cup rice, you can use 1.5 cups water. Drain any water left in the rice grains when they are cooked and softened.
Phirni is always served cold.
In the refrigerator, phirni stays good for 3 to 4 days. In the freezer, for a couple of weeks.
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Phirni Recipe | Firni
- ¼ cup basmati rice
- 1 litre whole milk or organic milk
- ½ to ¾ cup sugar or as required
- 18 to 20 almonds – blanched, reserve a few for garnishing
- 6 to 7 green cardamoms – crushed and powdered in a mortar-pestle
- 12 to 15 saffron strands
- Rinse the rice a couple of times in water. Drain and let them dry on their own or wipe the grains dry with a kitchen towel.
- Take the rice grains in a dry grinder or coffee grinder. Grind the rice till the consistency resembles sooji (rava or fine semolina) or corn meal or couscous .
- You can also soak the rice in water for 30 mins and then drain and grind to a semi fine powder.
- Reserve a few almond slices for garnish.
- Set the ground rice aside.
- Take hot boiling water in a small bowl. Add almonds and cover the bowl.
- Blanch almonds for 30 minutes.
- When the almonds become warm, then peel them and slice the almonds.
- Heat milk in a thick bottomed broad pan or sauce pan or kadai.
- When the milk becomes warm, take 1 tbsp from it in a bowl.
- Stir the saffron strands in this warm milk and keep aside.
- Let the milk reach to a boil. Then lower the flame and add the ground rice. Stir and add sugar also.
- On a low to medium flame cook the ground rice in the milk. Do not cover the pan.
- Keep on stirring at intervals so that the lumps are not formed.
- Also powder the cardamoms in a mortar-pestle. Discard the almond peels.
- When the rice is almost cooked, add the almonds, cardamom powder and saffron dissolved milk.
- Stir and cook firni for a further 5 to 6 mins or more or till the firni thickens.
- If adding rose water, add once the firni is done.
- Pour the phirni in serving bowls. Garnish phirni with the remaining chopped almond slices.
- Cover the bowls and once cooled at room temperature, refrigerate phirni.
- Serve phirni once cooled.
- Store firni in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer, for a couple of weeks.
- For basmati rice: Though fragrant basmati rice is the preferred rice in this recipe, but you can easily replace it with any fragrant rice (non-sticky) or a regular rice.
- For saffron: Skip saffron but do add some aromatic ingredient in its place. Choose from cardamom powder or rose water or kewra water (screw pine water).
- For sugar: Use jaggery or palm sugar or coconut sugar. Once the phirni is cooked, remove it from the heat and set it aside for 5 minutes. Then add chopped jaggery or or palm sugar or coconut sugar and mix thoroughly.
- Vegan version: Cook the ground rice in water just like you would cook any other rice. Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Then add almond milk in parts, keeping on stirring until you get the thick creamy consistency. For cooking ¼ cup rice, you can add 1.5 cups water. Drain any water left in the rice grains when they are cooked and softened.
Blanching almonds in a microwave:
- In a microwave safe bowl take the almonds and water.
- The water should cover the almonds enough.
- Microwave the almonds for 2-3 minutes.
- Once warm or cool then peel the almonds and slice them.
Nutrition Info Approximate values
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