Fereni (Rice Flour Pudding)
Fereni is not considered a dessert to Iranians. Actually, the custom of concluding a big dinner with a sweet dessert does not exist in Iran. Don’t get me wrong, Persians love sweets! Well, who doesn’t? But, they enjoy them more occasionally and socially, and almost always with tea, in the form of pastries and cakes. Pudding-like foods like Fereni and its cousin, Persian rice pudding, are considered a meal on their own, to enjoy for breakfast or a light dinner.
This little pudding is easily digested, energy packed and delicious, which may explain why, the only times I had it was when someone in the household was sick. Consequently, when I think about Fereni, my associations are of healing and nurturing, rather than indulgence in dessert.
By the way, after more than 3 years of searching for edible rose petals (gole mohammadi) in Montana, I found them in the Sweets Barn candy store just up the street from where I live. The owner had started selling her own hand blended teas, and the sparse, fuchsia colored petals looked too familiar to me. One whiff of the scent, and I knew I had found the right rose. There is a Persian saying آب در کوزه و ما تشنه لبان میگردیم :
It translates to, water is in the jug, yet we’re wandering around with parched lips, and means, the solution is under our nose, yet we’re searching far and wide for it.
This is the first time, I include rose petals in my cooking. I made enough Fereni to share with friends and neighbors, and had fun time decorating each cup. Food should be pleasing to the eyes as well as the stomach.
Ingredients (serves 5):
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbs rosewater
- edible rose petals
- slivered almonds
- In a bowl soak rice in 1 cup milk for at least 1/2 hr. Don’t forget to mix.
- In a nonstick pot over med.-high heat, bring the remaining milk to a gentle boil (~10-20 min depending on volume).
- Lower heat to medium-low. Add the flour and milk mixture and whisk to break up clumps.
- Mix in the sugar and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom from caking.
- Check for desired consistency. Add more sugar if needed.
- If preferred thicker, in a small bowl mix in more flour with some of the Fereni. Whisk to break up clumps, then add back to the pot. Allow to cook.
- Add the rosewater and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve warm in the winter. Serve cold in the summer.