Beyond Curry: Phirni (Indian Rice Pudding)
There's so much to love about phirni. But my heart usually skips its first beat when I see the earthen pots that hold this delicious rice pudding. These almost tagine lid-shaped bowls are specially moulded for phirni and beckon passers-by from sweet shops with a high-contrast show of earthy red and mellow white.
Phirni is usually made during Muslim festivals and special occasions, but it's also quite popular in homes throughout the year. I had my first taste of phirni as a child when one of my Muslim friends brought copious amounts of it to school to share with the class, after a festival. It was creamy, yet light. Sweet, but not too sweet. And very easy to have one too many bowls of.
Later I discovered that it's got another point in its favor: phirni is incredibly simple to make. And hence even more difficult to stay away from.
Rice is the main ingredient in this pudding; a well made phirni will always highlight the rice and then the other ingredients. Dry fruits add texture, and if you want to get adventurous, you can add your favorite fruit pulp. It's a simple reward at the end of any day.
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About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her newly-married husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.