Phirni or firni is a classic sweet dish. It is made with humble ingredients of rice, milk and sugar, perfumed with floral flavor. Phirni is one of the many faces of the ubiquitous kheer and is available in many varieties. Badam kesar Phirni is the traditional flavor, but now-a-days many more variations like chocolate, rose, mango, and apple flavoured phirni too are quite popular.

I have a fair amount of sweet tooth. For me, ending a meal with a nice dessert is not just fitting but is much needed. In my fridge, you would always find something sweet to dig into. Apart from the usual chocolates and ice creams, there is always that one special dessert like a phirni, halwa, jalebi or sevaiyaan. Relishing an Indian dessert is something that I associate with my childhood reminding me of the warmth, the comfort of home.

The many faces of kheer…

Rice in India, for its life sustaining qualities, has always been part of religious functions. Hence, kheer or phirni, a derivative of rice, became an important part of religious rituals. It is quite famously served as muh-mittha (sweet) at festivals, weddings and as prasad at religious ceremonies.

Thanks to the mentions of kheer in the Ayurveda texts, it can be deduced that it was a part of ancient India diet. But very little is known about the very first kheer or its story of origin.

Phirni – a simple dessert!

Quite a simple dessert to make, it is packed with creamy, nutty, fruity sweetness. The process of making it is quite similar to that of kheer, the only difference is that phirni is made with rice powder. Cinnamon or Cardamom have always been predominantly used to flavour desserts in India. Phirni uses cardamom spice for the subtle sweet and spicy warm aroma, whereas another variant of rice pudding – Chawal ka Muzzafar uses cinnamon as one of the main spices.

Kesari Phirni - Saffron and Pistachio flavoured Rice Pudding
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins

Phirni or firni is a classic sweet dish. Quite simple to make, it is made with humble ingredients of rice, milk and sugar, and perfumed with floral flavour.

Course: Dessert
Origin: Punjab
Servings: 4 people
Recipe by: Divya
  • 1 litre Full Cream Milk
  • 1/3 cup or 50 gms of Rice pre-soaked and grounded to powder consistency
  • 1/4 cup or 70 gms of Sugar
  • 10-12 pieces Green Cardamom seeds only grounded to fine powder
  • Handful Pistachio crushed coarsely for garnish
  • Pinch Saffron Strands
  • Few Rose Petals optional
  1. Pre-soak rice for 30 minutes in water. Drain and grind the rice to a fine powder adding ½ cup milk.

  2. In a heavy bottom saucepan, add milk and bring it to a boil on medium flame. Reduce the heat to low. 

  3. Add saffron strands (pre-soaked in 2 tbsp of milk for 20 minutes) to the milk. Simmer the milk till it is reduced to ¾ level of the original quantity. Keep stirring in between so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom.

  4. Now, slowly add the rice powder mix while stirring the milk. Keep stirring till the rice mix blends well into the milk and starts to thicken.

  5. Keep stirring continuously for about 15-20 minutes to avoid forming any lumps and to prevent the milk and rice mix from sticking to the bottom.

  6. Slowly add the sugar into the mix while stirring it and blending it into the mix.

  7. Also, add the cardamom powder. Mix well. 

  8. Keep stirring for a further 2 minutes or till the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

  9. Using a ladle, add to dessert bowls and chill till serving time. 

  10. Serve chilled and garnish with crushed pistachios and rose petals.

Recipe Notes
  1. You can adjust quantity of sugar as per your sweet liking. Also can use sweetener instead of sugar.
  2. Using saffron strands is optional. Adding saffron to phirni, gives it a yellow hint of colour.
  3. For garnish, instead of pistachio, slivered almonds can also be used.
  4. Add the rice and the sugar slowly while stirring, otherwise lumps will be formed.
  5. If phirni has turned to thick, you can loosen it by adding 2 tbsp of milk at the time of serving.
  6. You can also add fresh fruits as garnish, if wanted.


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