Firni is what one should think of when they think of rice pudding. When looking at other traditional rice puddings, they are quick and easy to make and let’s face it; they don’t taste quite like this delicious bowl of rich and creamy heaven. Firni is a Pakistani rice pudding dessert prepared and cooked with love, using sweetened, cardamom-infused milk.
The rice is ground to a powder before cooking to make a creamier, softer consistency and the dessert is served chilled, instead of warm. Traditional recipes call for rosewater in the recipe, but this is optional. Finish off your dessert by decorating the top with crushed nuts to balance creamy with a delightful bit of crunch.
It may take a bit longer to make this wonderful dessert (as rich in history as it is in flavor), but every single bite you savor will remind you of why you kept stirring between household chores (or feed check-ins).
Measure the rice into a medium saucepan and fill the pan with cold water. Rinse the rice, repeatedly draining the water and refilling until the water is no longer cloudy.
Drain the rice once more and then spread out on a tray or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If the rice is clumped, wet your hands and use your fingers to break up the clumps. Allow the rice to evaporate for about an hour before cooking.
Press down on the cardamom pods with the side of a large, flat knife to crack open the the outer shells. Pry open the shells to release the cardamom seeds. Discard the outer shells.
Using a spice grinder or food processor, grind the dried rice and cardamom seeds to a fine powder.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and stir in the powdered rice and cardamom mixture. Put the lid on your saucepan and simmer covered for 5 – 7 minutes. Stir in the evaporated milk, cover again and continue simmering for another 5 minutes.
Mix in the palm sugar and continue cooking rice over lowest heat possible until your mixture thickens to the consistency of thick custard (about 20 – 30 minutes).
Continue stirring during the cooking process, being careful not to mix in any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in any film that forms on the top of the cooking mixture.
Remove the saucepan from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. If you’re using rosewater, mix it in once your pudding is removed from the heat. Continue stirring while cooling the pudding down.
Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the almonds, pistachios, cashews or your favorite nuts.
Distribute the firni into small heatproof serving bowls, cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle your crushed nuts over the tops and serve cold.