Poha Phirni/ Rice Flake Pudding
Today is Sharad Poornima and on this day usually rice flakes(poha) are soaked in milk and left outside or where there will be moonlight at night for it to ‘catch’ the moonlight. During Sharad Poornima, the full moon is closet to Earth. It is believed that the moonlight has curative properties. It’s a tradition that I’ve been following since I got married and not knowing exactly why we put the rice flakes soaked in milk outside and consume it later at night. My mum would always ask me if I’ve made doodh poha. I’m not a big fan of the poha soaked in milk and eaten, perhaps because when I was younger the only variety of poha available was the thick one and the milk could not soak it well so it tasted a bit raw. But in the name of prasad, had a few spoons. Nowadays we get the thin rice flakes which soak well in the cold milk.
So why is Sharad Poornima exactly celebrated? Depending on which part of India you’re from the reasons vary. For most Gujaratis the reason that its on this full moon day that Lord Krishna invited his faithful devotees, the Gopis to play the Raas or Garba(traditional dance). Described as the Maha Raas Leela (The Grand Dance Phenomena), it is believed that on that night all the Gopis were completely entranced by Lord Krishna. This festival is still celebrated with dance and song by the inhabitants of Vrindavan, Mathura and the surrounding areas.
Sharad Poornima is also known as the Kojagari Poonam. It is believed that on this day the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmiji roams around in the sky at night, asking kojagaarati, searching on earth for people who are awake. Those who are awake are blessed and gifted with wealth. Ko jagaarati in Sanskrit means who is awake?
It is believed by some communities that its on this day that Goddess Lakshmi was born. They celebrate this day with much enthusiasm,
On this auspicious day unmarried girls in the state of Odisha, fast and worship Lord Kartikeya, asking for a handsome husband like him. The fast is carried out the whole day and then in the evening when the moon comes out, prayers and food are offered to Lord Kartikeya and the moon and then the fast is broken.
Sharad Poornima also marks the end of the monsoons and the beginning of autumn season.
This year I thought that instead of making the regular doodh poha(rice flakes soaked in milk), why not make something different. I decided to make poha phirni. It turned out really delicious and I served it with some fresh fruit. Unfortunately today we were not able to catch the moonlight as since morning its been raining and the moon is hiding behind the dark heavy clouds. Hubby’s take on this situation…. oh don’t worry, just keep it under the white light and pretend its the moonlight! I guess he said that because he couldn’t wait to dig into the dessert.
Do you have to make it only on this auspicious day? Not at all.. go ahead and make it whenever you feel like. The plus point is that it doesn’t take much time to cook it, its very easy to prepare it. Serve with chopped fresh fruits, with dried fruits, with nuts only or any thick fresh fruit puree.
POHA PHIRNI/ RICE FLAKE PUDDING
Recipe Source: Tarla Dalal Cook Book
1 cup rice flakes (poha, beaten rice)
3 cups full fat milk
3-4 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cardamom powder (elachi)
1 tbsp cornflour
1½ – 2 cups mixed fruit, chopped
- Roast the rice flakes in a wide pan over medium to low heat mixing all the time till they become crunchy. Be careful not to burn the rice flakes. This step takes about 2-3 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and let the rice flakes cool down.
- Take 3 tbsp of milk from the measured milk and put it in a small bowl or cup. Add cornflour and mix it well.
- Process the rice flakes in a food processor to a coarse powder.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and milk well.
- Bring the milk to a boil. Remember to stir it occasionally so that it does not stick to the bottom.
- When the milk begins to boil, add the coarsely powdered rice flakes.
- Mix well.
- Slowly add the cornflour mixture while stirring the milk continuously.
- Stir till it becomes thick and begins to bubble.
- Take the pan off the heat when the mixture becomes thick and paste like.
- Add cardamom powder and mix well.
- Spoon the phirni into serving bowls or glasses.
- Put the phirni in the fridge to set and become cold. I left mine for over 3 hours.
- Top the phirni with your choice of fruits, dried fruits, nuts or fruit puree before serving.
- Make sure you don’t burn the rice flakes.
- Grind to a coarse powder and not a fine powder.
- Add flavors of your choice. I left mine white because of the occasion.
- Add a topping of your choice.
- Replace the sugar with honey or maple syrup or stevia.
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