Kesar Phirni Tartlets – the perfect fusion dessert for Diwali!
Diwali means sweets and I love to try out fusion food for desserts. These Kesar Phirni Tartlets are a part of one such experiment I did and it turned out so delicious!
I love experimenting with Indian flavours and textures and adapting them to global dishes. To fuse what I have grown up eating to modern day representations of the same. It is a tricky and slippery path, where one can very easily go wrong. But I have been playing with these flavours for the past 6 years now and I have realised that the key to do is to focus on flavours and be true to the essence of the dish you are experimenting with.
One of the things, I keep in mind is the textures of both the dishes I try to fuse together. For example, when I did Chikki Brownies, I kept in mind that brownies are typically made with nuts and so it was just a matter of adding our chikki to it, to make the entire dish closer to our taste buds. The ricotta cheesecake is easier to blend with rasamalai because of the use of cheese/paneer in both whereas if you want the rabri cheesecake the smooth creamy cream cheese is the best.
So this year in my mind I was convinced I wanted to do something with kheer or phirni, I debated for sometime with using fruits or chocolate with it but I really wanted the Indian creamy goodness of Kheer/Phirni to shine. The slow cooked richness of the milk and that taste which spells childhood for so many of us.
And then I realised why not serve them in edible cups aka tart shells instead of the usual kulhad. I started with kesar kheer in mind but somehow wasn’t very happy with the first experiment I did. The rice texture wasn’t working for me at all, especially against the buttery and flaky shortcrust. That is when I realised, may be, I should try phirni instead and whacked myself on the head for not thinking of that before. The custard like texture of Phirni is perfect for the tarts.
The other thing I did is to use lemon zest liberally in the shortcrust and it beautifully cut down on the sugar. I even added a wee bit of lemon zest in the phirni after it had cooled and that tiny bit of lemon zest, hitting you suddenly while eating the sweet and creamy phirni was delightful. I think it was the lemon zest that took the dish to a different level and made it chic with clean and sophisticated flavours.
So here is the recipe for you guys – The kesar phirni tartlets. Make it for your Diwali party and it will be the talk of the table. If you are lazy to make the shortcrust, buy the tart shells or the pastry sheets. But if you want my advice, I would suggest make them because lemon zest does make a difference!
Kesar Phirni Tartlets | Saffron and Rice Pudding Tartlets
For the shortcrust pastry
- 375 g Plain flour
- 50 g Icing sugar
- 200 g Butter
- 1 Egg
- 2 tbsps Lemon Zest
For the Phirni
- 1 litre cream milk Full
- sugar 1/2 cup
- 5 tbsps rice
- 1 tsp ghee
- 4 - 5 strands Saffron of
- 1/2 tsp Water Kewara
- 1 tsp lemon zest
For the garnish
- Pista Flakes
- Rose Petals Dry
For the tart shells
- To make the pastry base, add the flour, icing sugar and butter to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, you can do this with hand also by rubbing the butter and flour in between your finger tips. Add the egg and lemon zest and pulse again until the dough comes together. Wrap in cling wrap, then rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180C and grease tartlet moulds.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry until 3-4mm thick. (you can freeze the remaining pastry for up to 4 weeks). Cut the pastry sheet into tartlet size rounds and line the buttered tart moulds with pastry, then rest in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
- Bake for 15 minutes till the pastry is crisp and slightly browned. Let it completely cool before using
For the phirni
- Wash and soak rice for two hours.
- Drain the water and coarsely grind the rice.
- In a kadhai, heat ghee and add the milk. Bring the milk to boil and add ground rice and saffron to it.
- Let it simmer over low heat till the milk is reduced to 1/2 and phirni has thickened. We do want it thick since we are going to serve in tart shells. However, do keep in mind that it will further thicken on cooling. Just before switching off the heat, add sugar and kewara water.
- Set aside for chilling and when cool, add lemon zest and stir.
To assemble the tart
- Fill the tart shell with phirni and top with pista flakes and dry rose petals. Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.
- Serve chilled