Recipe: Poha Phirni
Poha Phirni is a gluten free rich creamy pudding made by using rice flakes and full fat milk. To make it more healthy and filling I love to add mixed fresh fruits and nuts to it. This recipe as such is not a traditional Indian dessert or mithai as generally poha is used for savoury dishes like Vegetable Poha.
So how did I think of using rice flakes or poha for a milk pudding? Well, I had come across this recipe on the Tarla Dalal website. I first tried out the recipe as per the recipe for Sharad Poornima. Usually Gujaratis prepare Doodh Poha on this auspicious day. I wanted to make something different. Over time I did away with the cornflour as the poha or flat rice, rice flakes are more than enough to thicken the pudding to the required consistency. Also using full fat milk helps.
What Is Phirni?
Phirni is a creamy milk pudding similar to kheer. However, to make phirni the star ingredient has to be ground to a coarse texture. If you are using rice, it is soaked and then ground. Makhana or foxnut is roasted till it becomes crispy and then ground to a coarse powder. Sooji or semolina does not need to be ground.
It is believed that phirni existed during the Mughal period. It was served to the royal as a rich pudding or dessert.
What Is Sharad Poornima?
Sharad Poornima marks the end of the Hindu month Ashwini. Generally, comes after a few days of Navratri. On this day usually rice flakes (poha) are soaked in milk and left outside 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 helps to correct the pitta imbalance in our bodies.
Undoubtedly, it is a tradition that I’ve been following since I got married. My mum would always ask me if I’ve made doodh poha. I’m not a big fan of raw poha soaked in milk. But now I don’t mind as we boil the milk and add poha. In fact 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 if you don’t want to soak in hot milk.
Why is Sharad Poornima exactly celebrated? Actually depends on which part of India you’re from as the reasons vary. Indeed, most Gujaratis celebrate it as on this full moon day 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. Gujaratis celebrate it with ras garba followed by enjoying the cool moonlight infused doodh poha.
Celebrated By Communities in Orissa, Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand
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. Indeed, 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 it is 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.
Memories – A Change From The Usual Doodh Poha
This year I thought that instead of making the regular doodh poha (rice flakes soaked in milk), why not make something different. And poha phirni it was. Certainly 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.
Can I Make This Dessert On Other Days?
Do you have to make it only on this auspicious day? Of course not! 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. I’ve made it for my dinner parties as it is easy to make it a day ahead. Confidently can vouch that it always has been a hit with my guests. They love the idea of it being served with lots of fresh fruits.
Sharing This Recipe With The Group Foodies_ Redoing Old Posts
This recipe was first published on 24/10/2018. Redoing it by sharing better photos and more structured write up.
What Is Poha?
Poha is flattened rice. It can be made from white, brown or red rice. In fact, parboiled rice is pounded and then dried. On soaking them in water they swell up. You will find 3 types of poha. Thick, thin and nylon poha. It depends on how the parboiled rice is beaten. Usually, the nylon ones are used for making roasted chivda. Thick ones can be deep fried to make savoury snacks. And the thin or medium one is usually used for making the famous breakfast dish poha. But be aware that different grocery stores have different terms they use to distinguish the thickness of the rice flakes.
Some More Phirni Recipes
Ingredients Required For Poha Phirni
Rice Flakes – known as poha, chira, pauva, avalakki, aval in India. Also known as flattened or beaten rice. I like to use the medium (thin) poha for this recipe.
Milk – best to use full fat milk for that lovely creamy texture.
Sugar – white sugar as you want the phirni to be white or pale yellow. Add according to your taste.
Cardamom Powder – add according to your taste.
Fresh Fruit – any of your choice. Can use chopped berries, apples, pears, mango, peaches, pomegranate, etc.
Nuts – chopped into slivers or into small pieces. Use any nuts of your choice.
Saffron – kesar. Optional. When I make poha phirni for Sharad Poornima I don’t add any.
How To Make Doodh Poha, The Traditional Gujarati Dish Prepared During Sharad Poornima
- 1 cup poha
- 3 cups full fat milk
- 3-4 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 1- 1½ cups mixed fruit chopped
ROAST THE POHA
- Roast the rice flakes in a wide pan over medium to low heat mixing all the time till they become a bit 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 completely.
- Process the rice flakes in a food processor to a coarse powder. Make sure it doesn't become a fine powder. So process in short bursts.
PREPARE POHA PHIRNI
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
- 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 sugar. Mix well to melt the sugar.
- Add the coarsely powdered rice flakes.
- Mix well.
- Keep stirring the mixture till it becomes thick.
- Take the pan off the heat when the mixture becomes thick and almost paste like. On cooling it will further thicken.
- Add cardamom powder and mix well.
- Spoon the phirni into serving bowls.
- Put the phirni in the fridge to set and become cold. I left mine for over 3 hours.
- Top the phirni with chopped fresh fruit and nuts.
- Make sure you don't burn the rice flakes. Thicker flakes will take longer to roast.
- Grind to a coarse powder and not a fine powder.
- Add flavors of your choice. I left mine white because of the occasion. Can add saffron. Try cinnamon powder.
- Add a topping of your choice. Use dried fruits and nuts. Add a fresh fruit coulis.
- Replace the sugar with honey, maple syrup or stevia.
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