Phirni Brûlée

Phirni is classic indian ground rice pudding made with basmati rice, milk, sugar, nuts and flavored with cardamom or saffron or rose water. Perfect for festive celebrations or as a delicious sweet finish to a dinner, its a quick and easy desserts with basic pantry ingredients. In my recipe I added a little twist taking inspiration from classic french brûlée and served it with a crackly sugar top.

What is Phirni/Firni?

Phirni is a creamy pudding made with ground basmati rice. The ground rice is slow cooked with milk till everything achieves a velvety consistency, it is sweetened and then is typically set and served in shallow earthen pots and is best eaten chilled. Setting in earthen pots imparts it a nice earth aroma which is so unique and only adds to its taste.

How is Phirni Different from Kheer?

Both kheer and phirni are milk based rice pudding, however the difference is that in phirni, rice is ground and then cooked with milk versus kheer in which rice is cooked as it is, without grinding in milk.

What is Creme Brûlée?

Creme Brûlée is an elegant french custard dessert made with eggs, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar. The chilled, set creamy custards are sprinkled with sugar and is then torched with the kitchen torch so that the sugar is caramelized crispy. And served right away.

Why Phirni Brûlée?

The idea for this fusion was playing in my mind for long and the textural contrast of creamy rice pudding with a crackly sugar top is just mind blowing. The phirni is cooked in the traditional way, its slow cooked and eggless and can be eaten and served on its own! However, I wanted to add a touch of fusion so I went ahead and bruleed it! My husband is a huge fan of creme boulle and this dessert was such a huge with him.

Lavender Flavored :- I have been loving the flavor of lavender scented desserts lately so I perfumed this phirni with little crushed dried lavender. Don’t worry the scent is just lovely, not soapy at all. Lavender is just amazing in milky desserts and it is such an underrated flavor in indian cuisine. I tried it in peda a while back! Start with this lavender malai peda recipe 🙂 However you can always flavor the phirni the traditional way with ground cardamom, rosewater or saffron!

Coming back to brûlée, you simple need a culinary grade torch which can be bought for around $10 off amazon. Alternatively, as I read on internet broiler can also be used to caramelize the sugar, however I cannot vouch for it since I haven’t tried.

Few things to be kept in mind when you make phirni :-

  1. You can choose a fragrant rice – short grain goind bhog/kalijeera or jasmine rice work wonderfully besides basmati rice. Wash and air dry the rice for a few hours before grinding it.
  2. Keep the phirni towards mildly sweeter side since the brûlée sugar will balance the sweetness. However, if you are not making the brûlée, add 6 tbsp of sugar to sweeten the phirni.
  3. Since the rice is ground, I feel phirni cooks much faster than kheer, you have to however keep on stirring it more often, so that the ground rice dosent get lumpy.
  4. Always chill the phirni to bring out the right texture and taste. Ideally, I would make the phirni a day ahead and brûlée it right before serving. Please do not brûlée warm phirni.
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Phirni Brûlée

Classic Indian ground rice pudding with a fusion twist of bruleed sugar layer.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • A heavy pot, culinary torch

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup basmati rice
  • 3 cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers (crushed between palms) , or use cardamom or saffron or rose water
  • 4 tbsp raw sugar/demera sugar

Instructions

  • Wash rice 3-4 times under running water. Drain and then spread the rice on paper towel or kicthen towel to air dry for a few hours.
  • Once the rice is dry, add to a coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Don't make a very fine or a very coarse powder.
  • Set milk to boil and reduce on low medium heat.
  • Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and let the milk reduce for 15 minutes or so.
  • Next, while continuously whisking add the ground rice to the milk. Keep whisking for 2-3 minutes else lumps will form.
  • Let the milk simmer and rice cook in the milk. You will need to stir the phirni often while it cooks for even cooking and to make sure that no lumps are formed.
  • In about 20 minutes you, you will see the milk will thicken and become almost custard like since the rice has cooked out. At this point add the granulated sugar. Cook for another 3-5 minutes till the sugar is dissolved. Switch off the stove and mix in the lavender (or the flavor that you are using).
  • While still warm, divide the phirni into your serving bowls. Let sit undisturbed until completely cooled down and then chill in the fridge for atleast 6 hours. You can serve the phirni just like this or with some nuts.
  • To Brûlée (Just before serving):- Spread 3/4 to 1 tbsp of raw sugar over the set chilled phirni. Using a culinary torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy slightly burnt sugar top. Wait for 5 minutes for the sugar to harden before serving.

Notes

  • You can choose a fragrant rice – short grain goind bhog/kalijeera or jasmine rice work wonderfully besides basmati rice. Wash and air dry the rice for a few hours before grinding it.
  • Keep the phirni towards mildly sweeter side since the brûlée sugar will balance the sweetness. However, if you are not making the brûlée, add 6 tbsp of sugar to sweeten the phirni.
  • Since the rice is ground, I feel phirni cooks much faster than kheer, you have to however keep on stirring it more often, so that the ground rice dosent get lumpy.
  • Always chill the phirni to bring out the right texture and taste. Ideally, I would make the phirni a day ahead and brûlée it right before serving. Please do not brûlée warm phirni.

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