It is Diwali season in India – the festival of lights and crackers and sweets and gifts and pretty clothes. A rich, creamy rice pudding or Phirni is one of the popular desserts back home. This version is a take on the classic, served in a granola tart base.
My head has been full of Halloween, just like the blogging world is full of Halloween desserts. Then the other day I was Skyping with my mom and she mentioned Diwali holidays coming up soon and I realized that it is indeed Diwali season back home. And just like there is thanksgiving and Halloween and pumpkin talk everywhere in this end of the world, plans for Diwali – shopping for clothes, crackers, lighting, home décor, sweets making, invitations – are being laid out in India.
It is easy to forget when you are away from home, busy immersing yourself in a new culture, learning its ways and discovering new things; it is fun, but it is also equally fun to celebrate your own culture in small ways in a different country. To share the spirit from back home with new family and friends here.
And although the two celebrations are as opposite as they can be – one celebrating the dead and the other celebrating life and light and victory – the big thing that remains the same is that there are lots of treats involved!! YayYayyy
For this dessert, I wanted to give a very popular and loved dessert a little twist. It is weird that I got the idea while eating my bowl of granola for breakfast. I thought this will taste nice with coconut pudding. Then one thing led to another and this experiment was born. At home, my mom made kheer often (it is a liquid version of rice pudding). So I started with a similar base, but added coconut milk to it. The coconut flavor is not strong or overwhelming but it is present and it tastes really good. Gelatin is never used in this dessert in India. I added gelatin, so that it sets in the tart and does not make it soggy.
Although it is a bit time consuming, it is an extremely simple and easy dish to make.
So excited that this recipe got featured on the Indian desserts section of FeedFeed.
Indian Rice and Coconut Pudding Tart with Granola Almond crust
Serves – 4 11cm Tarts
For the Pudding / Phirni
1/4 cup rice
750 ml milk
1/2 cup sugar (as needed)
1 tsp cardamom powder or to preference
250ml coconut milk
One packet Gelatin
Wash the rice a few times and let it dry. This can be done the previous night. Or pat dry the rice thoroughly. Put it in the food processor and grind to a coarse powder but not fine. Set aside.
In a non-stick stewpot, heat milk to scalding point. Add the rice, and let cook in the milk on medium. Stir every once in a while, but do not scrape bottom of the pan or browning bits will get mixed up in the pudding.
Whisk the sugar with the cardamom powder. Once the rice is completely cooked, add the sugar-spice mixture and coconut milk and continue to simmer.
The objective is to reduce and thicken the concoction. Once it is reduced to less than half of its original quantity, take it off the heat and pour it into a clean bowl.
PS – (There will most likely be a thick film of browned milk at the bottom of the pan, clean it quickly before it solidifies and turns into a dishwashing nightmare!)
Prepare Gelatin as per package instructions and add to the rice pudding. Let cool. Prepare the crust.
For the Granola Almond Crust
1 1/2 cup almond granola
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
In the food processor, add the granola, almond meal and cardamom powder. Give it a good whiz till you have a semi fine coarse powder. You don’t want it to be very fine. We are looking for a bit of crunch.
Heat coconut oil in a pan, add the ground granola almond mixture and fry for 2 minutes just until all the oil is absorbed and the mixture starts to turn golden. Remove from heat, transfer to a clean bowl. Once it is cool enough to handle, add honey and mix well.
I used a 11cm tart pan. Put 3 heaped tbsp. in each tart pan and press it around the pan evenly around all the edges and crevices. Add more crust filling if needed or remove if too much. Refrigerate for an hour. The pudding should have cooled sufficiently by then, put it in the refrigerator as well.
Remove both from the refrigerator. With a sharp paring knife, loosen the edges of the crust from the tart pan and remove gently. Be careful to not break or crumble edges of the tart base. Fill with the phirni/rice pudding. Throw on some toasted coconut and pistachios and serve chilled. If not serving immediately, store the crust and the phirni / pudding separately in air tight containers in the refrigerator.