A popular dessert, set in shikoras – earthenware bowls – and flavoured with cardamom and saffron. Using shikoras has an advantage as the excess moisture in the phirni gets absorbed by the eathenware making the dessert richly thick and also imparts a unique flavor to the phirni. It’s best to make it ahead and leave to set in the refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours or for a day to improve in texture. It is difficult to source shikoras in this part of the world, although I would definitely love to try using them someday!

This dessert is like rice pudding, the difference being that for rice pudding whole rice grains are used whereas for Phirni the rice is ground to a paste, albeit sightly coarse.

Ghee or fat has not been used in the cooking process, making it a weight-watchers delight and calories can be further controlled by the use of fat-free milk and natural sugar. I have used full-fat milk and regular sugar in this recipe.  I made phirni using two litres of milk but this recipe is for half the quantity.


  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 litre / 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup basmati rice
  • 250 gms./1 cup sugar
  • 1 g/ 2 tsp. saffrom
  • 5g / 1 tsp. green cardamom powder
  • 2 drops rosewater concentrate
  • 5g / 2 tsp. pistachios
  • 10g / 4 tsp. almonds
  1. Pick rice and wash in running water and soak for 30 minutes.  Drain. Put in blender, add water (approx. 30 ml/2 tbsp.) and make a slightly coarse paste.
  2. Dissolve saffron in 15 ml / 1 tbsp. of warm milk.
  3. Blanch pistachio and almonds, cool, remove the skin and cut into slivers.
  4. If using Shikoras: Rinse in running water and then immerse in a vessel full of water for 25 minutes.  Remove and pat dry.
  5. Boil the remaining milk in a pan, add the rice paste and sugar whilst stirring.  Reduce to low heat and cook, stirring constantly (to ensure no lumps are formed), until the mixture becomes thick and is reduced to a custard consistency.
  6. Add saffrom, cardamom and rosewater concentrate, stir and remove.
  7. Pour equal quantities of the Phirni in the shikoras or glass bowls, garnish with pistachios and almond slivers, cool and refrigerate until set.
  8. Remove shikoras or bowls from the refrigerator and serve cold.


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