Saturday, October 15, 2011

Phirni (Ground Rice Pudding) with Pomegranate Seeds and Karwa Chauth

Phirni with pomegranate seeds

Sitting in the balcony I would look at all those women wrapped in beautiful red sarees, sparkling their gold jewellery, with the best makeup on, holding pooja ki thali (a big plate with all necessities for pooja) with both their hands heading towards the shiva temple right behind my hostel. I was young at that time but old enough to dream that one day when I will really fall in love with someone and do what women in India have been doing for ages - pray to god for their husband's, better half's, significant other's long and healthy lives. I found it such a romantic and selfless way to show how much you love someone - fasting for an entire day with no food, or even a single drop of water and watching the moon come up with the person you love and then eating from his hand. That is what Karwa Chauth was to me and I always waited for the day when I will have someone to do that for.

Traditional Indian attire

Then came my turn, I married the person I loved and it was time to follow the same rituals. But I lived so far from home and my own country, where mothers send a huge basket with clothes and jewellery to be worn that day. Where mothers-in-law take you shopping and buy you everything you need for the pooja and very carefully direct new bride through the rituals. I thought I lived too far for all that to happen with me! Until the phone kept ringing every few hours with my mother checking if I received the packet with the red saree she had sent to me all the way from India. And my mother-in-law checking on how I was doing with no food or water for the first time in my life. I did fine and followed all the steps for rituals that my mother in law made my husband write on a sheet of paper, very diligently.

Phirni1

Then it was dusk. I pulled out the red saree that my mother had sent, its silver crystals glittering all along the border and tried my best to wrap it around me, and failing every time. This was the first time I was trying to put one on with no help whatsoever. Then the husband came to rescue. No, he did not try to wrap it himself but came with a youtube tutorial "how to wrap a saree - for dummies!". That helped because after 20 more minutes I was wrapped beautifully in a saree just like a new bride with bangles on and a big bindi on my forehead. And then began the waiting game. The moon somehow decides to show up a little late than usual on every Karwa Chauth. This one was no different. Again the mothers kept calling asking me to eat if the moon rise was late but I wanted a long life for my husband and hence waited. Waiting paid off and the moon showed up with its full beauty. We, the new couple cried with joy, thanked god for our togetherness and he raised a glass of water and I took a big gulp from it. He took a spoonful of firni and I ate. We hugged, kissed and ran straight to the dinner table where food was ready to be served.

Pomegranate

That was my first karwa chauth with him, today it is sixth. It has been six years and today I love him more than I did on my first karwa chauth. I made some firni today just like I did on my first karwa chauth. Firni is very much like kheer (rice pudding) where you cook rice with milk reducing it to a creamy rich texture. Only that for Firni, a thick paste of ground rice and cashews is used instead of whole rice. Sugar is used as a sweetener and saffron and/or crushed cardamom seeds are used for aroma. You can garnish it with dry fruits of your choice. Almonds, pistachio or cashews are some common nuts people use in Indian rice pudding. I thought of fall and the vibrant colors of pomegranate. Felt like giving it a try and realized the tartness of pomegranate seeds go very well with the sweet and rich flavors of phirni.

Phirni 2

I have seen my aunts and mom serving the dessert in little clay pots. Once the cooking process would finish they would pour the pudding using a big ladle into these clay pots and store them in a cold place. After a few hours clay would absorb all the extra water in the pudding making it thick and creamy. Unfortunately I did not have the luxury of those clay pots but if you do then I'd suggest use this method and you will know the difference.

Phirni 3

Ingredients:  Serves 8-10
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cashew nuts
1 tsp cardamom seeds (crushed)
1-2 pinches of saffron
1 cup half n half
1 cup sugar
1 cup pomegranate seeds

Method:
Thoroughly clean rice with water. Mix cashews and rice together and soak in water for a couple hours.
Strain all the excess water and using a food processor or blender make a paste of rice and cashews. (Paste should not be very smooth but granular so that you can feel the texture when rubbed with fingers). Set aside.
Heat milk in a thick bottom pan or deep dish. Bring it to boil and reduce temperature once milk starts bubbling.
Cook milk at low temperature stirring frequently until the milk reduces to its 3/4th quantity.
Now add the rice and cashew paste, saffron and half n half. Stir frequently until the pudding starts to thicken which will not take long after you add rice mixture to milk.
Once the thickening process starts, add sugar and cardamom seeds. Keep stirring.
Once all the sugar is dissolved and rice and cashews are cooked, the pudding is ready.
Now you can choose the consistency of your pudding. If you like it a little loose and flowing then turn off the heat. If like it thicker like I do then cook a little further.
Once you turn of the heat, let it cool a little. Stir it every once in a while preventing it from forming a thick layer on top.
Once the pudding has cooled down a little but is still warm, transfer it to serving dishes and either let it chill before serving or you can also serve it warm garnished with pomegranate seeds.

45 comments:

  1. what a beautiful traditional post....love the anaardaana garnish :)

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  2. These pictures are so so gorgeous and beautiful. And I still haven't read the whole post. Gosh, you are one lovely person & I gotta read the rest...

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  3. This was such a beautiful post. I loved reading your story and was very touched by how beautiful the tradition is. Thank you for sharing that lovely slice of your life with all of us.

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  4. Thanks guys! And wish you a happy Karwa Chauth if you celebrate :-)

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  5. Wow, that was one lovely post and so romantic at that. I could actually see the images in my mind. I always admired this custom of the North and ladies who did this. But though I love my better half so much, I can never imagine myself doing though I would love to do it some day.. I guess all that matters is that final moment when the moon comes up and he breaks your fast with water.

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  6. You must have looked stunning in that crimson red saree! What a wonderful way to reminisce on that beautiful day. The efforts of your moms show how important time worn rituals and traditions should exceed the barriers of distance.

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  7. I love pomegranates. This pudding looks and sounds just heavenly.

    Happy Karwa Chauth!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  8. just broke my karwa chauth fast some minutes ago... as always the moon showed up late... and had dinner... started browsing and came across your site and the karwa chauth post...

    you have a lovely and beautiful blog prerna...

    the simplicity and beauty of your post awed me... fantastic... it made me remember my first karwa chauth.. mom-in-law buying soooo many things for me.... now i am far away from them... and had to do all the rituals alone...

    the whole day fasting and then the hubby... breaking the fast with water and a piece of mathri (we break the fast with mathri)... everything so beautiful, yet traditional and bonds the husband and wife deeply...

    the mathris remind me that as always i am late to post its recipe... just made today on karwa chauth...

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  9. Love how you have paired pomegranate with Phirni! I like the special 'Prerna' twist you give to Indian classics :)

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  10. Happy Karvachauth to you dear! Loved your straight from the heart post ...You just wrote everything I miss back home & look forward to on such festive occasions. ..I feel the same way..love has grown by bounds as compared to the first year :)
    Fruits brighten kheers & phirni so much..I usually serve phirni with strawberries, pom is a wonderful idea too!must try while the season lasts..

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  11. Beautifully written post Prerna. Where did you find these lovely voluptuous pomegranate. When I was pregnant, my mom and I would hunt for it. It was found so sporadic here and the ones I found were sour.Hopefully they tasted as good as they look in your pictures. Stunning pics as always sweety.

    So how are you holding up today? May your family be showered with all the love from God. Have a blessed year!

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  12. This is my second Karwachaut and i have to say it's not easy but somehow it feels so so so nice to do something like this for the person u love the most :)

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  13. Lovely shots...the pom-pearl are definitely photogenic

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  14. Awesome pictures Prerna, Hope you had wonderful Karwachaut!!!

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  15. Happy karwachaut !! first time here & luvd ur recipes & clicks... happy to follow u !!

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  16. That is such a beautiful tradition! Thank you for sharing it. It is heart warming to hear of such meaningful long-time traditions being held dear even now :) The pudding sounds delicious...and the red saree, I'm sure that was fabulous!

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  17. I love pomegranate and this sounds like an excellent and tasty way to serve it! Thank you for sharing with us such a dear tradition to you as well.

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  18. What a beautiful and touching post Prerna :D I've never heard of karwa chauth before, but the way you describe it, and your love for your husband is so beautiful. What a wonderful tradition!

    Your rice pudding looks absolutely beautiful too. I love the contrast of the pomegranate seeds on top of the creamy pudding, and as always, your photos are absolutely stunning.

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  19. My friend once referred to a youtube video on how to tie saree. When she appeared at my MIL's house, she was told she did it the wrong side. Your love story (not to mention husband) is so sweet, although I've never heard of Karwa Chauth before, I wish you countless more and eternal happiness!

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  20. Wonderful story--I love hearing about your traditions and the stories behind the food that you photograph and share with us so beautifully.

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  21. Lovely post Prerna!
    Happy (belated) Karwa Chauth to you...
    Pom gives Phirni a nice colorful twist.. And cute mangal sutra you have there.. Do you wear "nath" as well on this special day?

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  22. @A Spoonful of Yumm @Plateful @Sarah at Buttered-Up @Gayathri @Christina @Chinmayie @Priya @Pavithra- Thanks so much guys!I had a fabulous karwa Chauth and hope you did too :-)
    @Vijitha- I found these pomegranate at the Indian store close to your place :-)
    @Hasna- Thanks so much for following Indian Simmer and Welcome! :-)
    @ChichaJo- I still have that saree maybe will show it off one day here too!
    @Juls @Jennifer @Pickyin @Jenna @Radhikha- Thank you ladies! You are always too kind :-)

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  23. What a touching post and how wonderful that you got the support and love you needed that first time even though you were so far from your family.

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  24. very beautiful post and lovely clicks....
    On KC day....when I was driving by, some indian lady was doing KC pooja with her hubby in front of her on the road...I guess she couldnt see the moon from her apartment....I was very much touched to see it...we dont do that pooja....but someday I just might :)

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  25. love this sweet love story and wonderful treat

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  26. A lovely post and delicious looking pudding. Thanks for sharing!

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  27. A sentimental and heart warming post Prerna served with a lovely dessert. Beautiful!

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  28. What a beautiful tradition. And also a delicious dessert.

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  29. what a heartwarming post. thanks for sharing the story with us. The pictures are amazing too!

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  30. What a lovely post. I thought of all my friends who were doing this ritual the other night. It truly is a very thoughtful, prayerful and romantic gesture.
    The phirni is lovely and one of my favorite Indian desserts. I love and appreciate all that you share with us about your life and traditions.

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  31. What a sentimental post Prerna. It sounds like you had a lovely Karwa Chauth- just like a classical Indian movie. Probably even more special as both sets of parents could take part in their own ways even though they are so far away. And I would have gobbled this phirni down as soon as I broke the fast! It looks stunning with the pomegranate garnish.

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  32. I always have this at one of my favorite Indian restaurants--so creamy and the texture is divine! Sigh....

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  33. This recipe looks wonderful and I can't wait to try it. Beautiful story too! I just love the picture of your bangles and mangalsutra. I'm in Bombay, India at the moment and I'll have to go out and find some bangles like those. Stunning!

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  34. What a beautiful custom. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  35. Whoa! What presentation....!! B-E-A-utiful! My mouth is already watering.....a must try this for Diwali night.

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  36. Such a beautiful piece of writing!! Love this recipe too!

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  37. Oh you know how to make me smile. This recipe looks so freakin' fantastic... but I really do love all rice puddings (well, it can't be the store bought kind... has to be homemade). The few pomegranate seeds on top is beautiful!

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  38. LOVE the photo of the pomegranate! This sounds very yummy too. And what a gorgeous experience. I'm tearing up reading about how loving you 2 are =D.

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  39. Dear Prerna,

    Wishing you and your family a very happy Diwali!

    Regards,
    -Gagan

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  40. Wow ! I must say the Indian Traditions are so beautiful with lots of colors & activities. Your story is very touchy.Your Pomegranate & Rice pudding Combo is a hit. Would try it ! Thanks for sharing the Indian festival tale. Cheers !

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  41. Such a heartfelt story! My favorite memories are the ones that include food, family and some sort of love and culture connection. I hope my future with my man is as bright as yours has been - judging by how things are going I'm certain it will be :)

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  42. I know I will be using this recipe very soon!

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  44. I can't thank you enough for this recipe. Tonight is the second time I've made this and it is fantastic!! Thank you for your blog and all the work you put into your recipes. You are a gem!!

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  45. very useful really good information thanks for posting such a good information it will hepls the people a lot keep it up , Regards, upma recipe

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