Tuesday, 13 October 2015
This is a dessert which was not common in Bengali homes then. In middle class homes like ours, moms were not so keen on experimenting with cuisines of other culture or region. They were happy with what they learnt for generations from the family itself. There was less exposure. The word cosmopolitan was unknown to that generation, or perhaps they did not pay much attention or may not be willing to give much importance to it. At the end of the day what mattered was a good "macher jhol bhaat", meaning fish curry with rice. Desserts essentially meant Payesh[rice kheer], Pithey, Roshogolla, Pantua, Sandesh and a number of homemade sweets.
I remember, after my marriage, when I tried my hands on coriander chicken or cashew chicken, there was strong objections. I was said we never ate this. I did not understand why we cannot accept new, how can we move ahead then. My only support was my globe trotter husband and my sis-in-law, who off course was of this generation. Whatever I cooked, they took the pain of tasting it and giving approval, even to my over boiled Bombay Pulao. Thanks to them, today whatever little I have learnt is through trial and error. My mom was another rigid woman who never allowed me in her kitchen in fear of mess.
I tasted Phirni when I was in college. Kolkata has some very good Mughlai restaurants where we get our favourites, from Awadhi Biryani to Afgani Chicken and Rumali roti to phirni...served chilled in small earthern bowls. I used to visit with my friends, sometimes to have biryani and phirni, at times Afgani chicken, roomali roti and to end with phirni. I vividly remember the scene, all girls sitting inside curtained cabins, God knows why when outside it was easier to breathe. Perhaps not to disturb others with our giggling and no-sense talks. It was from then my love for this dessert started. A very humble, simple, no frill, flavourful dessert. The addition of mango pulp made it tastier. In the process I may not have done it authentically but it tasted heavenly, that can be assured. Let us do it together.
Milk : 1lt
Rice : 5tbsp[a fragrant one preferably]
Sugar : 3/4small cup
Mango Pulp : 1big cup
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp
Kewra Water : 2-3 drops[optional]
Pistachios[to garnish] : 5-6[optional]
Wash the rice and soak in enough water for an hour. Coarsely grind using only as much water required. It will neither be like toothpaste nor a dry powder.
Pour the milk on a heavy bottomed vessel and let boil at medium to low temperature, while constantly stirring it.
After about 10-12 minutes , add 2-3 tbsp milk to the ground rice and slowly add to the boiling milk stirring continuously.
Once the rice is cooked, add the sugar and keep on stirring for 5 minutes.
Add the green cardamom powder and kewra water and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Switch off and let cool. Blend the mango pulp and the phirni in a blender and transfer to small bowls[looks best when served in earthen bowls]. Refrigerate before serving.
NOTE:Perhaps in the last step I invaded the authenticity of doing Phirni, blending it with the mango pulp when we are supposed to let it set. Thats because I was skeptical of adding the mango pulp to the hot phirni, fearing it may get curdled. It did not compromise with the taste, I can assure.