|Margarita's International Recipes|
When I cook international food (or eat out at ethnic restaurants) I usually exclude deserts, as I've found that I'm not generally very fond of them. I'm not sure if this is because my tastes are too "western" with respect to desserts or because many cuisines just don't have great desserts. Whatever the case, as I am now cooking international food so as to explore different culinary traditions, I could not leave desserts aside.
I chose to make Firnee because it sounded both simple and somewhat "safe". I don't tend to like the overly sweet pastries that are a staple of middle eastern cuisine, and I'm not a baker, so I try to avoid baking whenever possible.
Firnee was a good choice with respect to ease of making. It's very easy and very quick to make. The problem is that it's just not very good. I don't think that this is a particular problem with the recipe or my execution, as I've noticed that the few restaurant reviews that mention firnee have not given it particularly high marks.
I modified the original recipe in two ways - one bad and one good. The bad is that I substituted rose water for the water. Some other versions of this recipe I saw called for rose water, but 1/4 cup of such is just too much and made the whole custard taste of rose water. If you like rose water, then make sure that you don't put more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of it at the most. The good, is that I greatly increased the sugar. With 1/3 cups of sugar this custard is just too bland - give it a little more and it becomes OK. I included the saffron, but I found that it did not add much flavor. Given how expensive saffron is, I'd skip it next time. I also included the slivered almonds, but I also think they do little to contribute to the dessert. The pistachios on top, however, where much better.
In sum, this dessert can be OK but it's not worth making (or eating).
Marga's Modified Firnee
3 cups whole milk 1 cup sugar 1 pinch salt 1/2 cup cornstarch 1/4 cup cold water 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamon pistachios
Mix 1/2 cup of milk with water and cornstarch. Set aside.
Heat the rest of the milk. Add salt and sugar. Mix until the sugar disolves. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir. Add cardamon. Cook stirring constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove and pour into serving dish. Sprinkle pistachios on top. Refrigerate until serving.
Original Firnee Recipe
From The Small Kitchen Gourmet
3 c Milk
1 pinch Salt
1/3 c Granulated sugar
1/2 c Cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 c Cold water
1/2 c Slivered blanched almonds
1/4 ts Ground cardamom (or more)
1/4 ts Saffron threads (pounded), can be omitted
1/4 c Finely chopped pistachios (blanched)
Put all but 1/2 cup milk into a heavy pan and add salt and sugar. Put on to heat gently, stirring to dissove sugar. Blend cornflour into reserved milk with the 1/4 cup water and pour into warm milk, stirring constantly. Add almonds and keep stirring until mixture thickens and bubbles. Use a whisk if mixture becomes lumpy. Add cardamom to taste and the pounded saffron. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, letting pudding simmer very gently. Stir occasionally.
Pour into 6 or 8 individual sweet dishes, spreading evenly. Sprinkle pistachio nuts around edge of each dish. To serve firnee in the traditional manner, the pudding should be poured into two plates, decorated with pistachio nuts and cut into quarters to serve in wedges.