At last. I’ve made kulfi. I don’t know why it took me so long. It’s the easiest ice-cream to make, and probably the cheapest too. No purchasing of expensive ice-cream churning equipment required, no making of pate a bombe for parfait, no getting the freezing vessel out every couple of hours to whisk like mad. Just a simple bringing together of all the ingredients in a bowl, pouring into moulds of your choice, and playing the waiting game.
Traditionally, kulfi is made by boiling and reducing milk, then adding sugar and flavourings (pistachio or mango being the most commonly used flavours). An easier and equally delicious alternative is to substitute the milk with readily available condensed milk. The recipe I used, from Ajoy Joshi’s Indian Home Cooking, calls for the kulfi to be set for at least 6 hours, but the batch I made was ready in a little under that. Which was handy, because I’m not a terribly patient person.
Kulfi reminds me of J, a friend I’ve unfortunately lost contact with. We met on our first day at our first year of uni. She had the most amazing eyes and a really sweet smile that made everyone warm to her. I had streaky blue hair, and a penchant for wearing Smashing Pumpkins t-shirts and petticoats. Half due to necessity (there weren’t many girls in our course) we somehow made a connection and despite being intrinsically rather different people, we spent a really fun year being the J and Y posse. Later I transferred to a different uni and we eventually lost touch over the years.The last time I saw her was at her engagement party. But not long before that, we arranged to meet at a Sydney Food and Wine Festival food fair. She spied someone walking past with kulfi and soon we were catching up over pyramid shaped ice-creams on sticks.
The suggested accompaniment to this kulfi was a rich cream sauce. As the kulfi itself is quite rich, I think something a little more simple like a raspberry or rose petal sauce would work just as well.
Saffron and pista kulfi :
large pinch saffron threads
1/2 cup milk, heated
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
3 tablespoons green cardamom pods (lacking this, I used a good pinch of ground cinnamon)
1 2/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
3 cups double cream
In a bowl, combine saffron and hot milk and set aside for 10 minutes. Place pistachio nuts in a food processor and process until finely chopped. In a spice grinder, grind cardamom to a powder.
Place condensed milk and cream in a bowl. Stir until well combined; do not whisk or beat. Add pistachio nuts, saffron and milk mixture, and ground cardamom. Stir until well combined.
Divide mixture among 10 ramekins with a 1/2 cup capacity. Place in freezer until ice-cream is frozen, about 6 hours. Cover ramekins well and keep in freezer until serving.
To serve, briefly dip each ramekin in a bowl of hot water. Invert a serving plate on top and invert plate and ramekin to unmold ice cream. Top with sauce and serve immediately.
Note: You can make ice cream up to 2 weeks ahead. Wrap well to prevent flavours being absorbed from other foods in freezer.