Orange Blossom and Date Pudding (Ferni)

This recipe has been taken from The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan.

This quick, elegant pudding is loved all over the Middle East, where it is flavoured with rose water, cardamoms, cloves, date syrup, figs or mulberries, in various combinations. One year when my mother came to visit us from Iran, my sister Maryam casually mentioned to her that she liked it a lot. My gran then proceeded to cook Ferni for her everyday for the next two weeks. It says a lot about how good it tastes that we never get sick of it.

The recipe is supremely flexible and is just as good with almond, soya or coconut milk if you are avoiding dairy. It can be served warm or cold, depending on the season and our preference.


  • 100g ground rice
  • 1-litre whole milk
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachios, chocolate

For the date syrup:

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g Iranian or Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water

Serves 6


  • Mix the ground rice and 250ml of the milk together until they form a smooth paste.
  • Pour the rest of the milk and the sugar into a large saucepan over a medium heat and slowly whisk the rice mixture into it. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, to stop it catching on the base of the pan.
  • Add the orange blossom water and cook for another 2 minutes. Take off the heat and pour into a large serving dish (around 22cm wide) or six individual glasses or ramekins. Leave to set for 10 minutes.
  • Make the syrup by cooking the honey, water, cinnamon and dates in a small saucepan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the dates have softened.
  • Toast the pistachios in a small pan over a medium heat for a minute or two.
  • Just before serving, drizzle some date syrup over the puddings (adjusting the amount to suit your sweet tooth) and finish with the pistachios.

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