Saffron yogurt phirni

Saffron yogurt phirni

By
From
I Love India
Serves
4-5
Photographer
Martin Poole

Phirni is a Northern Indian dessert made from ground rice and milk, lightly flavoured, typically set and chilled in little clay pots. The clay continues to absorb the liquid from the mixture, making the phirni even creamier. I have added yogurt to this recipe, which gives a subtle complexity that I feel really adds to the dish and helps to balance the sweetness of typical Indian desserts. Make these a day in advance. You can set them in pretty little glass bowls or a larger serving dish. When Indian mangoes are in season, I chop some and add them on top; the musky sweetness really works with this dessert.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
40g basmati rice
1 litre whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
good pinch saffron threads
2 tablespoons thick, set plain yogurt, not too sour
chopped pistachios, to serve
or almonds, to serve

Method

  1. Soak the basmati for 1 hour in plentiful water, then drain and dry it completely on kitchen paper. Set aside.
  2. Pour 900ml of the milk into a wide, heavy-based saucepan. Add the saffron. Place over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and gently simmer until it has reduced to 600ml. You will need to stir the milk often, scraping the base of the pan to make sure the milk doesn’t catch and burn. If the heat is too high, the milk will rise up in the pan and spill, so keep an eye on it.
  3. Meanwhile, set aside 1 tsp of the dried rice and, using a spice grinder, grind the rest to a coarse powder. Set aside.
  4. When the milk has reduced, add the ground rice to the reserved 100ml milk and stir well. Pour this straight into the reduced hot milk with the reserved whole rice, stirring so it does not form a clump. Keep cooking and stirring for 10 minutes or so over a medium heat.
  5. Add the sugar, cardamom and saffron and keep stirring until the mixture has thickened, another 5–7 minutes. It will measure around 450–500ml.
  6. Cool, then stir in the yogurt. Adjust the sweetness to taste, bearing in mind that as it cools the sweetness will be less pronounced.
  7. Pour into individual bowls or a large serving dish, cover with cling film and chill overnight in the fridge. Serve sprinkled with the nuts.
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