Phirni (Rice pudding)

Dear Roopa, this is specially for you!
Phirni is one of the easiest puddings to make. I was supposedly trying a variation today - mango phirni, but it seemed the fresh yellow mango was rotten on the inside. What bad luck. You can add your creativity to this by adding rose hips, strawberries, honey, apple, and the list goes on. Nevertheless, I made the old classic. It is served at weddings and special ceremonies, in earthen cups. The aroma of the wet clay and the chill phirni, has an unforgettably unbeatable flavor!

What I used: Serves 6
1/2 cup raw rice
1 cup white sugar (Vegans, substitute this ingredient with brown sugar)
2 cardamoms peeled and seeds powdered
1 cup water
2-3 cups milk (Vegans, substitute this ingredient with almond milk)
4 tsp condensed milk (Vegans, eliminate this ingredient)
4 tsp ghee
A pinch of saffron
Garnish: Few whole cashews, pistachios and raisins

In a blender, powder the raw rice to a coarse mixture. Set aside.
Add ghee into a saucepan. On medium heat, when the ghee meagerly starts to shimmer, add in the garnish ingredients starting with the nuts and ending with the raisins. When they turn light brown, drain off the excess ghee and set aside.  

Add the coarsely powdered rice into the same saucepan and roast it in ghee until light brown. Add water and bring to a boil. Once it is half cooked, add in 2 cups milk. Bring it to a boil on medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes. When the rice is cooked through, add sugar and cardamom powder. Stir well and cook until all the sugar dissolves. 

Add another cup of milk if it is too thick to stir. Add in the saffron. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes until the mixture is thick. Add the condensed milk. Let it continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. It can be served warm or cool. Many prefer it chilled for a couple of hours. The consistency is also of choice, some like it gooey, and some like it runny. Adding more milk will yield a watery pudding. Enjoy!