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Traditional Semai Phirni: A Creamy South Asian Festival Dessert Recipe

Semai Phirni is a traditional and cherished dessert that has graced the tables of many South Asian households during festivals and special occasions. With roots in Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani cuisine, this luxurious treat combines the silken textures of vermicelli and milk with a symphony of rich, aromatic spices and toasted nuts. The fragrance of kewra water adds a final flourish to this comforting dish, making it irresistible. The process of creating Semai Phirni is almost as satisfying as its taste, bringing warmth to any kitchen. It's not just a recipe; it's a celebration of culture, festivity, and culinary tradition. Whether you're familiar with South Asian desserts or venturing into new culinary territory, this semai phirni recipe is sure to win your heart with its delicate flavors and creamy texture.



A close-up of the finished Semai Phirni, garnished with a sprinkle of additional toasted nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of milk

  • 2 tbsp ghee

  • 1 tbsp raisins

  • 1 tbsp cashews

  • 1 tbsp pistachios

  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds

  • 150 gm of semai / vermicelli

  • 2 small cinnamon sticks

  • 3 cardamom pods

  • ¼ cup of condensed milk

  • 2 tbsp of sugar (adjust to taste)

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 tsp kewra water (screw pine water)






Steps:

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the 6 cups of milk to a boil. Once boiling, set it aside.

  2. In a different pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee.

  3. Add 1 tbsp each of raisins, cashews, pistachios, and slivered almonds to the pan with the ghee.

  4. Toast the dry fruits in the pan until the raisins become fluffy. Be careful not to burn them. Once done, set them aside.

  5. In the same pan, add the 150 gm of semai or vermicelli.

  6. Roast the semai over medium heat until it turns light brown. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Make sure to stir continuously to prevent it from burning.

  7. Pour the roasted semai into the saucepan with the warm milk.

  8. Add 2 small cinnamon sticks and 3 cardamom pods to the saucepan.

  9. Continue to cook the semai in the milk for another 4-5 minutes, or until the semai is fully cooked.

  10. Add ¼ cup of condensed milk and 2 tbsp of sugar to the saucepan. Adjust the sugar to taste.

  11. Add a pinch of salt. This will enhance the sweet flavor of the phirni.

  12. Stir in the reserved toasted dry fruits.

  13. Lastly, add 1 tsp of kewra water for aroma and flavor.

  14. If the semai phirni thickens too much, add a little more milk to loosen it up.

  15. Serve the semai phirni warm or chilled as per your preference.

Enjoy this delectable, creamy dessert!


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