Saffron Yogurt Phirni Recipe

Saffron Yogurt Phirni
Photo: Martin Poole
This Indian dish, made with rice and milk, is a sweet and healthy dessert option.

What You'll Need:
Serves 4–5

  • 40g (around 2 rounded tbsp) basmati rice
  • 1 litre (4 cups) whole milk
  • 4 tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground cardamom
  • good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp thick, set plain yogurt, not too sour
  • chopped pistachios or almonds, to serve


Step 1: Soak the basmati for 1 hour in plentiful water, then drain and dry it completely on kitchen paper. Set aside.

Step 2: Pour 900ml (3 2⁄3 cups) of the milk into a wide, heavy-based saucepan. Add the saffron. Place over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and gently simmer until it has reduced to 600ml (2 1/2 cups). You will need to stir the milk often, scraping the base of the pan to make sure the milk doesn't catch and burn. If the heat is too high, the milk will rise up in the pan and spill, so keep an eye on it.

Step 3: Meanwhile, set aside 1 tsp of the dried rice and, using a spice grinder, grind the rest to a coarse powder. Set aside. When the milk has reduced, add the ground rice to the reserved 100ml (1⁄3 cup) milk and stir well. Pour this straight into the reduced hot milk with the reserved whole rice, stirring so it does not form a clump. Keep cooking and stirring for 10 minutes or so over a medium heat.

Step 4: Add the sugar, cardamom and saffron and keep stirring until the mixture has thickened, another 5–7 minutes. It will measure around 450–500ml (about 2 cups). Cool, then stir in the yogurt. Adjust the sweetness to taste, bearing in mind that as it cools the sweetness will be less pronounced.

Step 5: Pour into individual bowls or a large serving dish, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill overnight in the fridge. Serve sprinkled with the nuts.

I Love India

Recipe excerpted with permission from I Love India by Anjum Anand, published by Quadrille September 2017, RRP $29.99 hardcover.