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Kesar pista firni (saffron & pistachio rice and cream)
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100g basmati rice
100g pistachio kernels
2L whole milk
100ml double cream
1/4 tsp saffron strands
1 bay leaf
1 whole cardamom
200g granulated sugar
Pistachio slivers, to garnish
Rose petals, to garnish (optional)
1. Wash the rice in cold water and leave to soak in the water for 3 hours. It can be left for longer or shorter. Once soaked, drain the water through a colander, then pour on a tray or large plate and pat dry with kitchen paper. Transfer the rice onto layers of kitchen paper to remove as much of the moisture as possible. Once the rice looks dry, grind it to a powder in a grinder or liquidiser.
2. Pour the pistachios into a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Drain the nuts and gently rub the pistachios with a clean tea towel to remove the skins. Put the nuts back in the bowl and
add cold water. Remove after 20 minutes and grind the pistachios in a blender with 500ml cold milk. Gently warm the cream in a small saucepan until tepid. Remove from the heat and add the saffron. Set aside while it infuses.
3. Add the pistachio milk to the remaining whole milk and heat in a large heavy-based nonstick saucepan. When it comes to a gentle boil, add the bay leaf and cardamom. Stir the milk to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. After 15 minutes, add the powdered rice and bring the milk to a gentle boil again. Once added, the rice may start getting stuck around the edges of the pan – if so, scrape the rice and push it back into the milk. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken. Break any skin that forms while the milk is boiling with the back of a wooden spoon and push back into the milk. Cook gently for 30 minutes to thicken. Warm the cream with saffron over a low heat, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Do not boil the cream.
4. Add the saffron cream to the main milk and rice pan and mix gently. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a serving dish or individual serving portions. As the firni cools, it will form a ‘top’ layer which in many families is considered the best part of the dessert. Garnish with pistachio slivers or rose petals before serving.
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