This Fereni is my mom’s recipe, and she learned it from my grandmother. It always reminds me of the carefree days of my childhood when desserts were simple and yet wonderful. She always made Fereni in fall and winter and I have kept up the tradition and with the arrival of cold weather everyone in my family starts craving some smooth Fereni. My daughter who is away in college is particularly fond of this winter dessert and makes a batch of it and eats it for snacks and breakfast.
The texture of Fereni is very smooth and creamy and it is mildly sweet with a hint of rose essence. A light sprinkle of chopped pistachio nuts on top is all this dessert needs to look as elegant as it is simple.
There are only a few ingredients in Fereni, and the simple fact is that when you boil the starch in liquid it becomes thick, but the slow cooking process over low heat must be followed for the texture to be just right. Attempts at shortcuts by increasing the temperature will result in burnt or grainy custard. The rice flour needs time to slowly soften in the milk and cook over low heat to have a smooth and thick custard consistency.
This brand of rosewater is very mild with a delicate rose essence that is subtle and pleasant. It is sold in most Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets. If you are unable to find the Golchin brand and have to use a different one, add one tablespoon at a time and taste it before adding more. Some brands tend to be stronger.
Another thing to consider is the fact that once you start cooking the Fereni, it will need your constant attention and continuous whisking. I use a nonstick pot to prevents custard from sticking and burning. I also use a silicone coated whisk to prevent lumps as the custard thickens; the silicone cover will protect your nonstick pot from scratching. Whisking is done gently and thoroughly, stirring and scraping sides, corners and the bottom of the pot. If left unattended the custard will stick to the bottom of the pot and you will end up with burnt patches that will surface when you stir. If this happens, continue cooking over low temperature but avoid scraping the bottom of the pot so you don’t lift and mix a lot of the burnt pieces into the Fereni.
It is recommended that you measure out the milk at the beginning and then add it at the suggested intervals and temperatures according to the recipe. Each time allow the custard to thicken and wait for the air pockets to burst on the surface before adding any additional milk.
After the last cup of milk is added wait for the custard to thicken and the air pockets to form, then continue whisking gently and continuously for a few more minutes.
Pour the Fereni into the bowls or ramekins immediately.
Sprinkle the chopped unsalted pistachio on top and refrigerate without covering them
Fereni thickens as it chills
If there ever is a “comfort dessert,” Fereni is it!
- ½ cup plus 2 TBSP rice flour
- ⅔ cup cold water
- 7 cups whole fat milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBSP rose water (may substitute with ¼ tsp culinary rose oil or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1-2 TBSP chopped unsalted pistachios for garnish
- Measure out 7 cups of milk.
- Heat 2 cups of the milk in a 6-Qt non-stick pan on medium heat, and bring it to a low boil, about 5 minutes. Use a silicone covered whisk to stir a few times to keep the milk from sticking and burning.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the rice flour with ⅔ cup cold water until smooth and without lumps.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add the rice flour mixture into the hot milk and whisk with vigorous, constant motion until the mixture thickens and a few air pockets start bursting on the surface, about 5 minutes. Continue stirring with a whisk for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of the cold milk and continue whisking over medium low heat until it thickens again and a few air pockets burst on the surface. This will take about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the 4th cup of milk and whisk until it thickens but not bubbling. Add the sugar and rose water. Continue whisking over medium low until it thickens and a few air pockets burst on the surface.
- Increase the heat to medium and add the remaining 3 cups of cold milk one cup at a time and whisk until thickened with air pockets forming, before adding the next cup of milk. Each cup of cold milk will take 7-10 minutes to thicken over medium heat. Continue to whisk to prevent the custard from sticking to the pot.
- After the last cup of milk thickens and air pockets start bursting on the surface, whisk gently but continuously and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
- The mixture will have a thin custard consistency and will thicken further as it cools.
- Pour the custard in 7 serving bowls immediately. Sprinkle the top with chopped pistachios and refrigerate uncovered for at least 2-3 hours to set before serving. Cover the chilled custard bowls tightly with a plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
I love fereni! Yours look so delectable! Thank you for the detailed know-how recipe. Every detail is so important to make the recipe correctly. 🙂
Thank you dear Fae for your comment. Over the years I have enjoyed many desserts that I have loved but none can replace Fereni for me. The silky smooth texture and comforting nostalgic flavor hits the spot every single time!
Thanks for step by step instructions on how to make Fereni.
I made Fereni for the first time this morning. I used less sugar and it still tastes very good.
Where can I find chopped unsalted pistachio?
Hello Dear Nasrin, you’re so welcome! I’m happy you like my recipe. Unsalted pistachio is usually sold in Persian markets, and also in natural food stores such as Whole Foods or Sprouts markets. The sliced pistachios in my pictures are from Iran, but I have used the unsalted ones that are sold in the U.S. and they taste just fine.
in the U.S.Trader Joe’s sells it the in the nut section
Dear Sue, thanks very much for your helpful comment 🙂
Thank you for this! I was in Iran for a while and I ate fereni in huge quantities. In Isfahan they serve it with a kind of syrup. Do you know what it is exactly they put in that syrup?
Hello Warren, you’re welcome! In some parts of Iran, including Isfahan, fereni is served with a variety of syrups including, grape syrup, date syrup, or maple syrup; all of which are available online. Good luck!
B. Shrfi says
Thank you my Baba used to make this for me but he never wants to make it anymore, thank you so much for sharing this authentic delight. Reminds me of my childhood it is great to have a recipe i can refer to as an adult.
You’re so welcome dear B.Shrfi! I know exactly how you feel; our childhood favorites remain with us through our adult life and I’m truly happy to be able to give you this recipe. Thank you for sharing this with me 🙂
I want to make this because I love rose-flavored things in this pregnancy (I made some rose tea cake a few weeks ago). Maybe I’ll name the baby Rosie or something! I’m due in early September so I’ll probably have to take a break from fancy Persian Sunday dinners in the fall for a bit.
I don’t have a bunch of tiny ramekins. Will this set up right in a casserole dish? Any suggestions on a size?
Hi Allison, how exciting! Rosie is a beautiful name 😉
There should be no problem with Fereni setting in a large dish. However, the reason for dividing it into individual servings is that, you can’t really save the leftovers as the custard will not hold its consistency and some liquid will collect in the pan. To improvise, you could probably use coffee mugs for smaller servings?
Okay, I made the fereni and we both liked it a lot (we have dessert after Violet goes to bed so we don’t have to share since we’re such great parents). Are you familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch expression “a watched pot never boils” – I thought of it several times while waiting for bubbles!
And putting it in coffee mugs worked great!
Hello Allison; Fereni is one of my favorites and I can never get enough! I’m happy that the coffee mugs have worked for you. I have a feeling once Violet discovers this dessert, you will have to make a double batch 😉 Enjoy your weekend!
Alana Rain Salem says
I don’t know if you are still active on this blog but I want to tell you my little story. I’m 23 years old and I’m American-Persian. My dad is from Iran and mom is from Texas. Growing up my grandma used to make us all the food we could eat and we would have family brunches every Sunday. She passed in 2011 and we all still miss her so much. We tried food from all the Persian restaurants but nothing was the same. I’m recently unemployed so I started cooking a lot and teaching myself to make Persian food. I’ve been using all your recipes! My family loves them and I have enjoyed cooking them too. Thank you for your wealth of knowledge and I would love to see more recipes! I’m attempting Fereni tonight for the first time and making ghaymeh for the second time as well. You can email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Alana; how wonderful to hear from you. I’m so happy that you and your family have been enjoying my recipes. Your grandma sounds like an amazing lady; I’m sorry for your loss, but I know the memory of her love of food and family will always be with all of you. Enjoy this recipe; its one of my favorites. Please keep in touch!
Jocelyne Allaire says
Love this recipe. I have made a couple of times. Thank you. Merci.
My pleasure dear Jocelyne! Glad you like this recipe; it is a favorite of mine also 😉
Amazing fereni recipe my all time favorite
Thanks dear Sulmaz; Glad you like this recipe as much as I do. I’ve had many bowls of Fereni in my life but my mom’s recipe is truly the best 😉
Thank you for the fereni recipe! This was super easy to make with very clear instructions.
Hi Asal, I’m very happy to hear that you like this recipe! Thanks so much for your comment and please keep in touch! Take care
Hello! I am the daughter of Persian parents and I am literally 9 years old. I love fereni and this is a really good classic recipe, I just used a bit of honey instead of sugar and I didn’t add the rosewater, instead I used vanilla!