Rice pudding is an old classic dessert found in almost every part of the world, going by a variety of names such as Bubur Sumsum, Arroz con leche, and Moghli, to call out a few. With rice being a staple in Asian countries in particular, that’s where you see several variants of this dish. The Indian version Phirni brings in multiple flavour profiles with every bite! Texture from the rice, creaminess from the almond milk, sweetness from jaggery, a mildly aromatic undertone of spice from cardamom, and just the perfect amount of acidity from the strawberry to balance it all out. Throw in some raisins, and you've added a whole new level of texture and sweetness to this simple, oil-free dessert.
It’s traditionally made using cow’s milk, refined white sugar, and white basmati rice. Once fully chilled, it’s topped with seasonal fruits and served in earthen cups. This recipe I’m about to share with you has been adapted to meet the rising needs of a health-conscious and mindful society that recognises the dire need for dairy alternatives. By using freshly made almond milk (explained in the recipe below), organic jaggery, and brown basmati rice instead, you can turn this into a surprisingly healthy and satisfying treat without compromising on any aspect of the original taste. Try this out at the next festive occasion!
Phirni (Indian Rice Pudding)
Active Time: 25 minutes
- ¾ cup almonds (soaked in water overnight)
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp agave syrup (optional)
- ¼ cup brown basmati rice
- ½ cup powdered jaggery (or raw cane sugar)
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1 tsp cardamom
- A pinch of saffron
- Finely chopped strawberry or mango (to serve)
- Slivered almonds (to serve)
Soak the almonds for 8 hours or overnight in a bowl of filtered water.
Soak the basmati rice in a cup of water at least 1 hour prior to getting started.
To make almond milk, rinse the soaked almonds and blend in a high-speed blender with 3 ½ cups of water and a teaspoon of agave, until creamy and milky. Strain into a large vessel through a fine cloth (squeezing every last bit of almond milk out) so that the small, uncrushed bits of almond get filtered out (freeze the remaining pulp for later use). This should leave you with a little over 500ml of almond milk.
In a small food processor, blend ¼ cup of almond milk with the soaked rice to form a grainy, chunky rice paste.
Pour all the remaining almond milk, jaggery, and rice paste into a large pan, mix, bring to a boil, and then lower down to a simmer.
On medium-low heat, cover the pan with a lid and let it continue to simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the rice is soft. Make sure to quickly stir it every few minutes.
Open it and add the cardamom, saffron, and raisins. Stir well, you’ll see it starting to thicken at this point.
Once it reaches the consistency of a pudding, keep it out to cool in room temperature before refrigerating.
After a few hours of refrigerating, add some slivered almonds and strawberry (or mango) on top, and it’s ready to serve.