Popularly known to have originated in Indian subcontinent, Kulfi also known as Indian Ice-cream, is the Indian version of frozen dairy dessert that we all have grown up eating.
Being a 90s kid some of my fondest memories date back to that decade when India was on cusp of some major changes and we were witness to those changes. I think of myself as that unique generation of Indians who have witnessed extremes at both end of spectrum. Our generation has grown up staring at adversity in its face but it has only steeled our resolve further- resolve to achieve our goals despite severe lack of resources.
As a Kid, we were equally enthused at the mere mention of word Ice-Cream but feasting on these frozen desserts was not even remotely possible for us or maybe it was, but restricted to few occasions that I could count on my fingers. Having discovered that Ice-cream was out of our reach, I had come to love Kulfi- not only it was the next best alternative to fulfill our cravings for frozen desserts but more importantly it was far too economical. Kulfi came in at an economical rate that were as low as 50 paise to 1 rupee- a sum of money that my Mom would not mind handing over to me every alternate day.
In those days, in the Chawl where I stayed with over hundred other families, me and my friends loved playing in the sun every noon. When our grandparents and mothers would have rested themselves, we played team games and our shrieking laughter often disturbed those who had any plans of enjoying their siestas. Though we ended up attracting rebukes from the elders we were unperturbed and this continued for almost 2 months of summer vacations- our summer ritual. Who else observed ritualistic discipline was an elderly old man possibly a septuagenarian who would walk his bicycle in to our Chawl compound, same time every afternoon. Tied firmly on the bicycle carrier would be large earthen pot that was covered with a wet red cloth- which was a visual signal for our impatient eyes. Leaving the game in temporary stoppage and we would assemble around this elderly gentleman looking to buy our share of happiness- whoever said money can’t buy happiness must never have witnessed happy faces of children. I am pretty sure, Kulfi may evoke similar memories in every 90s kid.
Kulfi is said to have been derived from Persian ‘Qulfi’ that means “covered cup”. This dessert has its origin in Mughal empire and was restricted to royal durbars. As per wiki , reduced or evaporated milk which was already quite popular in Indian subcontinent, would be mixed with variety of flavors like pistachios and saffron and packed into metal cones and immersed in slurry ice. Quite interestingly, ice that was required for this process was specially imported from Himalayas into royal kitchens. Read more about Kulfi here
The distinctive caramelized taste which is attributed to Kulfi and that makes it different from Ice-Cream is due to slow cooking process of sweetened milk. During this lengthy cooking process milk and sugar get caramelized and then variety of spices could be added to Kulfi to impart richness of flavors.
Here, in this blog post, I am sharing the recipe of Malai Kulfi, which lets you enjoy the distinctive caramelized flavor and is my personal favorite. In posts to come in next few weeks, I would post few more recipes of other variants of Kulfi. Let’s hop over to the recipe and needless to say, I am looking forward to hearing back from you. Share your story of Kulfi, your feedback about the recipe in the comment section below.
- 1 liter Full Cream Milk
- 400 gms Condensed Milk
- 2-tbsp Corn Flour
- 1-tbsp Almonds
- 1-tbsp Cashewnuts
- 1-tbsp Pistachios-unsalted
- 4-5 Green Cardamoms
- We are using a large pan for boiling the Milk. I am using a non-stick Kadai. Empty the Condensed Milk into this Pan.
- Now, add full cream Milk to the same pan. Reserve ¼th cup Milk for dissolving corn flour. Milk well and ensure that the mixture is free from lumps. Always use Full Fat Milk for making Malai Kulfis. Mix raw milk with condensed milk. Do not boil it beforehand.
- In a separate bowl, mix corn flour with ¼th cup Milk. Ensure this mixture is free from lumps. Corn flour acts as a thickening agent when added to Milk.
- Put the milk and condensed milk mixture on the heat. Let it simmer on medium heat. Do not boil on high. Add coarsely grounded green cardamom in the Kulfi mixture. This is an optional step. You can skip cardamom if you don't like it.
- Milk begins to boil in about 8 mins on medium heat. Now add Corn flour mixture. Stir well before adding. Now simmer the Milk on low-medium heat. Keep stirring intermittently. Scrape back the layer of cream from sides of pan.
- Milk has reduced to half in about 20 mins. Cook the Kulfi mixture for some more time on low-medium heat.
- In total 30 mins, Milk had considerably reduced (1/3rd) and is now ready to be removed from heat.
- Now, add coarsely powdered Almonds, Cashewnuts and Pistachios. Mix well after adding. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
- After the mixture has cooled, we will put it in Kulfi molds. These fancy and colorful molds are available on online stores. Gently tap the molds and then cover it before putting them in freezer.
- Freeze for 24 hours. Unmold after 24 hours.
- Enjoy rich and delicious Malai Kulfi these summers.