Gulab Phirni (Rose Kheer)

Whole milk – 4 1/2 cups
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Basmati rice – 1/4 cup
Sugar – 6 tbsp
Rose syrup – 2 tbsp (can be replaced with 1 tsp rose water or 2 drops of pure rose essence)
Almonds – 2 tbsp, chopped (can also use pistachios)
Dried rose petals – a few, to garnish (optional)

Wash the basmati rice in water a couple of times and soak in water for half an hour. This will make the grinding part easier. using a blender, grind rice to a fairly smooth paste, adding a few tablespoons of milk. Set aside.

In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, start heating the milk on medium-high heat. When the milk boils, add the rice paste and reduce heat to medium. Cook the rice, stirring often to avoid any lumps. In about 10-15 minutes, the rice will be cooked. Cook the pudding further till it reduces and thickens, maybe 10 more minutes.

Add sugar and rose syrup. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Taste and add more sugar or rose syrup, if needed.

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes, but not more than that as the pudding will begin to set as it cools.

Transfer phirni to a big serving bowl or individual dessert bowls and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a couple of hours so that phirni sets properly.

Serve cold phirni garnished with chopped nuts and dried rose petals.

NOTES:
1. It is important to use whole milk in this recipe to achieve the creamy texture. Doing so will ensure that you do not need to add any canned condensed milk or pother such products.

2. A shortcut method to make phirni is to use store-bought rice flour instead of making your own rice paste:

Milk: 2 cups.
Rice flour: 2 tbsp. You may use any, white or brown.
Sugar: 2 to 3 tbsp.
Cardamom powder: 1/4 tsp or a generous pinch
Saffron: 15-20 threads soaked in 1 tbsp milk
Pistachio slivers and Almond slivers: 1 tbsp each for topping the dessert.

Dissolve. Rice flour in 1/4 cup water avoiding lump formation. Use stirrer.

Boil the milk with cardamom powder, in a heavy bottom pan.

When milk boils, add the rice flour paste to the boiling milk.

Simmer the milk with rice paste for about 2 minutes on medium low flame. Keep stirring with a stirrer or manual egg beater.

Once the milk and rice mixture gets slightly thick, add dissolved saffron and sugar. Cook for 2 more minutes while stirring often to avoid burning of the milk at the bottom.

Take it off the flame. Pour it directly in your dessert bowls. Let it cool down to room temperature and then garnish with the nuts. Refrigerate for an hour or so and enjoy this silky and smooth rice pudding called Phirni.

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