Rinse the rice a couple of times in water. Drain the water and let them dry on their own by spreading them on a tray or plate. Or wipe the grains dry with a kitchen towel.
Take the dried 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 .
Alternatively, soak the rice in water for 30 minutes and then drain the water. Dry the rice grains naturally and later grind to a semi fine powder.
Set the ground rice aside.
Blanching almonds and pistachios
Take hot boiling water in a small bowl. Add the nuts and cover the bowl.
Blanch for 30 minutes. Drain the water.
When the almonds and pistachios become warm, then peel and later slice or chop them.
Reserve a few almond and pistachio slices for garnish.
Heat milk in a thick bottomed broad pan or sauce pan or kadai.
When the milk becomes warm, take 1 tablespoon from it in a small bowl.
Stir the saffron strands in this warm milk and keep aside.
Let the milk reach to a boil. Then lower the heat and add the ground rice. Stir and add sugar also.
On a low to medium heat 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 cardamom peels.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the almonds, pistachios, cardamom powder and saffron infused milk.
Stir and cook for a further 5 to 6 minutes or more or till the firni thickens and the rice granules are softened and cooked completely.
Lastly add rose water, once the firni is done.
Pour the phirni in serving bowls. Garnish it with the remaining chopped almond and pistachio slices.
Cover the bowls tightly with lid or secure firmly with aluminium foil. Once cooled at room temperature, refrigerate phirni for about 4 hours or more.
Serve phirni once cooled.
Store it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days and in the freezer, for about 1 week.
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). If you want to make kesar phirni having more flavors of saffron then increase the amount of kesar to about 25 to 30 saffron strands.
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.