Today, I am taking you to India for the most popular frozen dessert of this wonderful country: kulfi.
What is kulfi?
It comes in several flavors like cream (malai), rose, mango, cardamom (elaichi), saffron (kesar or zafran) or pistachio.
How to make kulfi
Unlike ice cream as we know it in the West, the cream is not whipped in kulfi. This results in a more dense and compact ice cream.
Simmering the milk, sweetened condensed milk and / or evaporated milk to half their volume, helps to increase the fat, protein and lactose content in the final result.
Since kulfi contains more fat and less water, the ice cream does not crystallize and it also melts much more slowly than a traditional ice cream.
What is the origin of kulfi?
The origin of kulfi dates back to the Mughal Empire that ruled India from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. This ice cream was then prepared in the royal kitchens with ice that came from the mountains of the Himalayas.
One of the stories says that the original preparation of kulfi by the wife of Emperor Jahangir, Noorjahan is slightly different. She used to create and serve the frozen dessert by mixing sweetened milk with the pulp of many fruits to which was added imported crushed ice from the frozen Himalayan lakes. This method was only available among Indian aristocrats until refrigeration was introduced in the region.
Kulfi was often chilled and served in terracotta molds called kulhar. Another version of kulfi uses bread crumbs and milk powder (mawa). The version I chose which is more common uses cornstarch as a thickening agent but this ingredient is not required.
Kulfi is often prepared in individual portions on sticks like traditional ice cream. If you don’t have kulfi molds and sticks, you can also prepare kulfi in a baking dish and cut it into individual square portions after thawing kulfi for at least ten to fifteen minutes (remember that kulfi is slow to melt). You can also adopt my technique by using muffin pans or similar, ideally in silicone, which will help with unmolding.
Whatever the flavor, kulfi is often garnished with pistachios and cardamom or saffron.
I have regularly made this mango kulfi recipe for the past ten years. Everyone loves this ice cream at home. But beware, I recommend you not to look at the calorie count of this rich frozen dessert.
- 4 cups whole milk
- A few saffron threads
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons pistachio , coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds , crushed
- 2 cups unsweetened mango puree
- Crushed pistachio (for garnishing)
- A few saffron threads (for garnishing)
Bring milk to a boil in a pan, then reduce heat to simmer.
Add the saffron threads.
Let it simmer until it is reduced to almost ½ the volume, stirring regularly.
Add the condensed milk.
Dissolve cornstarch in a little water and add it to the pan.
Add the coarsely chopped pistachios and the crushed cardamom seeds.
Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool.
Add the mango puree and mix well.
Pour the mixture in kulfi molds, a baking dish or a muffin pan and freeze for at least 4 to 6 hours or until set.
Remove the mango kulfi from the molds by dipping the molds in warm water for a few seconds or by removing from the freezer 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Garnish with chopped pistachio and saffron threads.