Indian Desserts

Simran Dhanju carries the Diwali light forward with two popular Indian desserts 

Firni (Indian sweet pudding)


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 litres full cream milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1tsp cardamom powder (freshly ground)
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 2tbsp slivered pistachios
  • Few saffron threads
  • Dried rose petals
  • Silver leaf (for decoration)


  1. Soak rice for 2-3 hours. Drain water, spread on an absorbent paper to dry excess moisture. Grind rice to fine grains, but don’t make it into powder.
  2. In a heavy based saucepan, boil milk and rice together. Reduce flame and cook rice stirring constantly until milk is reduced and thickened.
  3. Add sugar, cardamom powder and pour in terracotta pots, garnish with almonds, pistachios, rose petals and saffron, and top with silver leaf.
  4. Let it cool; set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Serve.


Lauki (bottle gourd) Halwa


  • 4 lauki (bottle gourd) – medium size
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup ghee
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 1tsp cardamom powder, freshly ground
  • ½ cup mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews)
  • 2tbsp green raisins
  • 1 cup Mawa (Khoya) – a dairy product
  • Silver leaf for garnish


  1. Peel bottle gourd, cut into large pieces, remove seeds from centre and grate the rest coarsely.
  2. In a large heavy based pan, melt ghee, add nuts and fry for couple of minutes. Remove from pan.
  3. Add grated bottle gourd to the ghee, roast for 10 minutes till fragrant, add milk and cook on medium flame for 20-25 minutes, stirring constantly till milk evaporates and ghee separates.
  4. Add sugar and cook further 8 to 10 minutes, till water from sugar evaporates. Add raisins, fried nuts and mawa and mix; garish with few extra nuts and silver leaf.


Simran is a celebrated chef and a winner of multi cooking competitions; she creates visual delights artfully by merging traditional flavours.



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