The holy & spiritual month of Ramadan has finally come to an end, and as this wonderful day of celebration sets in, I would like to wish you all Eid Mubarakh ! Eid-ul-Fitr is a joyous occasion and marks not only the end of a month full of fasting, sacrifice, commitment and steadfast prayers but its also a day of gratitude for the everyday blessings in life. It brings together friends and families, and encourages Muslims to continue the teachings from the month of Ramadan throughout rest of the year, particularly the lessons of giving, kindness, tolerance and generosity to the less fortunate. The month of Ramadan has helped us all to generate thoughts that are pure such that we are able to spread sentiments of love. We need to spread the message of peace, first peace within one self, then of course peace that should be shared amongst all around us.
“May the Blessings of Allah keep your heart and home happy and wishing you all once again a joyous Eid Mubarak !”
And speaking of which, no celebration would be complete without something sweet.Usually its Sheer Korma or Kheer for Eid, but for me, Firni hits the spot ! Served chilled, this rich rice and milk dessert is difficult not to like. It is traditionally served up in an earthenware bowls – and not just because that’s the way it’s always been done. The clay absorbs the excess moisture, keeping the rice pudding firm and creamy. Firni seems to have made it way in our hearts, and has been around for long. One of the lovely things the Mughals did was, introduce this delectable dish to us. The origins of it are said to be somewhere in Persia or the Middle East, but these days it’s gaining too much popularity in our nation. And it’s no longer the good old plain Firni. Its taken on may flavours, infused with seasonal fruits and preferred toppings. Firni’s are whole new rage now.The other variations of Firni include Kesar, Badam, Mango, Coconut, Rose, Strawberry and these days I even hear there is a Blueberry! From posh restaurants and to roadside joints, Firni’s are everywhere.
Though there’s nothing quite like the homemade taste and it’s enormously satisfying to make these sweets from scratch. This recipe unlike the traditional rich and heavy ones is a cheat’s version (and I’ve got to thank my best friend’s mum in law for this recipe). I’ve omitted the cream and khoya and opted for toned milk rather than full fat. So it’s easy on the calories and yet it delivers. Flavourful, creamy and every bit festive. I do insist however to try and get some earthen pots. The taste of the clay bowls is irreplaceable and the Firni would be incomplete without them. Inshallah you will love this dessert
1 lt Toned Milk
3 Heaped tablespoons Basmati rice
3 tablespoons Sugar ( adjust to your liking)
1 tsp Kewra Essence ( you can get creative here and substitute for Vanilla essence or any other of your choice)
Handful of Almonds soaked and slivered
Handful of Pistachios soaked and slivered
4-5 Cardamom pods peeled and powdered
Few strands of Saffron for garnish
Silver Warkh (optional)
Begin with soaking the basmati rice for a few hours. 3 to 4 should be enough. If you are using the earthen pots, soak them in a bucket of water overnight. If not, regular glass bowls would also do just fine. Coarsely grind the rice making sure you do not churn it into a paste. Remember the rice will further break on cooking and you do want a little bite to the Firni rather than having it taste like custard. Use some of the milk to grind it. When you have achieved the right consistency, mix it with the remaining milk and pour it in a heavy based saucepan. Start to cook it on medium fire stirring continuously. When it reaches a boil add the sugar and kewra essence and further cook it till it begins to thicken and reduces in quantity. Be patient this could take a while. It shouldn’t be too dry but rather a bit runny. It will further thicken on cooling. Now mix in most of the prepared dry fruit, leaving some for garnishing. Bring to room temperature and pour out in the individual bowls and wrap tightly with cling film and chill in the refrigerator till set. When serving top up with the remaining almonds, pistachios, cardamom powder and saffron. For that extra bit you could garnish with some silver warkh( Silver paper)