Badaam Phirni

Rubber-banding Dessert

Professional psychologists call it ‘rubber-banding’, a moment, a feeling, an action which, when experienced, pings us back to a previous time in life when we experienced the same emotion, as if it’s happening all over again. For my Uncle Lawrie and his now silver thatch of hair, badaam phirni is the dessert that follows his childhood, adolescent, adult and senior years. It’s a relationship that has stood the test of time and it still tastes as beguiling and comforting as the first day he tried it. Maybe it’s the soft milky texture combined with the nutritious depth of ground almonds and ground rice flour, crowned with the regal scent of cardamom powder, which has kept his taste buds so loyal for all these years. Badaam phirni captured Lawrie a long time ago. I’ve since become a disciple and I think it’s time you joined the movement.

Serves 4–6

  • 20 almonds or 4 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 600ml whole milk
  • 4 tbsp rice flour
  • 4 tbsp unrefined sugar
  • 10 saffron strands
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 12 crushed pistachios
Badaam phirni

How To Make Badaam Phirni

In a pan of hot water, blanch the almonds and remove the skin. Alternatively, use flaked almonds. Use a hand blender to grind the almonds in 120ml of the milk to produce a paste. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the rice flour.

In a saucepan, bring the rest of the milk to the boil and tip in the sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Spoon out 1 tbsp hot milk into a small bowl and lace the saffron through it until the milk has taken on the colour of the strands. Strain the saffron milk back into the saucepan and add the almond paste. Gently stir until the mix thickens and becomes creamy, then shake in the cardamom powder. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then sprinkle the crushed pistachios over the dessert and refrigerate for an hour so before serving.

This delicious, light dessert is best presented in cute bowls and served with little spoons – you will want every mouthful to last!

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