I’ve been seeing so many Horchata recipes popping up in my feeds and its fundamental flavours reminded me so much of some of the Indian desserts I grew up with. I was particularly taken back to Phirni, a milk-based pudding lightly set with either rice flour or semolina. I found a recipe in an early edition of the South African Indian kitchen’s holy tome, the Indian Delights by the Women’s Cultural Group of Durban. Here it is, with just a few adjustments for taste and texture.

Cinnamon Phirni Drink
(adapted from Indian Delights, 3rd Impression, Circa 1975)

  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 TBSP rice flour + 3 TBSP milk
  • 3-4 TBSP coconut sugar/sweetener to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pour the milk  into a pot over medium heat.

Mix the rice flour into the additional milk to create a slurry.

Add the rice flour liquid to the pot just before the milk reaches a boil.

Add the sweetener, cardamom and cinnamon to the pot.

Simmer until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a thin porridge.

Remove from heat and pour into shallow bowls or cups.

Either drink as is, or chill before serving. Garnish with additional cinnamon.

If you require a bit more sweetness, top with maple syrup.

This mixture may also be frozen and served as a light ice cream.


Pictured with Nutella Monsterbuns (ready-made supermarket bread dough kneaded with Nutella to create a marbled effect before baking as rolls.)