Monday, January 26, 2009

Kesar Pista Kulfi - Decadent Cool Fix

Well, I'll admit it. I'll admit that I lay in wait, armed with this recipe, for a suitable group of guests to make it for. Normally, I ALWAYS try any recipe for ourselves before I subject my guests to it. But with this one, I couldn't risk so many calories going straight only to my gluteus maximus, could I?!! So, guests = guinea pigs? Something like that!

What's this, they asked (it was mixed nationality group of guests we had) when we served the dessert.
Kulfi, we said.
Cool fay? Cool fix?
No, Kulfi. Coolfee. Indian ice cream, we said, by way of explanation.

Though, technically, kulfi is not ice cream. It is a distinct category of its own alongside sorbets, granitas, gelatos, frozen yoghurts etc.

Kulfi is believed to owe its origins to the Mughals. Blocks of ice would be brought in to Delhi from the Hindukush mountains in order to keep the royalty cool in the searing hot Delhi summers. Mughal chefs, having ice at their disposal and taking a cue from their Persian and Arabic counterparts (incidentally, ice cream traces its origins back to Persia where the royalty was served a special chilled pudding like dish with vermicelli and rosewater), later invented 'kulfi'.

From being once reserved exclusively for royalty, kulfi is now a street food in India sold by hawkers called kulfiwallahs. They sell the kulfi either in small earthern pots called matkas or in aluminium popsicle like molds. The molds are buried in a huge metal container holding a mixture of ice and salt - this effectively freezes the kulfi. Bearing a huge cane basket, in which they secure the metal container in a distinct red cloth, on top of their heads, you'll find them going from street to street enticing the taste buds with their loud cries of "kulfeeeee" on balmy summer nights!

Normally, kulfi is made by sweating over a the gas to painstakingly reduce the milk to almost half. However, I do not have the energy or the patience to do that. The memory of trying to make malai pedhas is fresh in my mind - reduce the milk, said the recipe till it becomes a solid mass. Yeah, right....I got all of 7 pedhas after over an hour of toiling and sweating!! Which is why I knew I had struck gold with this recipe. No boiling. No cooking. Just mix and freeze.


for the base

1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
300 ml cream
breadcrumbs from 1 slice of bread

Traditionally, kulfi has been flavoured with cardamom, saffron and nuts, though today, a myriad of flavours abound, most popular being mango, custard apple, chikoo...and yes, even chocolate! I decided to stick to the traditional flavour of cardamom, pistachio and saffron.

for the flavouring:

10-12 pods of cardamom, peeled
1/2 cup pistachio, shelled
saffron, about 10-12 strands
rosewater - 1 tsp


Soak the saffron in the rosewater for about 10 mins. Grind the pistachio and the cardamom to a fine powder. Mix with the remaining ingredients for the kulfi base and process in a mixie. Now, stir in the soaked saffron. Pour into molds of your choice and freeze.

I set my kulfi in a 10" cake pan. To facilitate unmolding, just dab some butter in the centre of the pan and line with butter paper. Pour the kulfi mixture and freeze it. Before serving, run a knife dipped in hot water along the edge of the pan. Tip over your serving plate, rub the base vigorously with a kitchen towel, remove pan and peel off the butter paper. Cut and serve.

Makes enough to serve between 8-12 people, depending on the size of the slices.

Yes, it is high in calories. But, one bite and your guests will ask you for more, calories be damned. One bite, and you'll want to keep the whole thing for yourself, calories and guests be damned!!


  1. nice... very similar to what i posted. it is very yummy right? can't just stop with a spoon. gotta have a big bowl of kulfi and enjoy every bit of it.

  2. Looks terrible..can you pass one here ?

  3. mahimaa, yeah very similar to you know why I left that comment on yours!

    Ann, anytime :)

  4. Love it, absolutely love it...a no cook version of kulfi that looks so decadent and tempting I feel like having some right now and its freezing here...but I am definitely going to try this when the weather warms up here :-)

  5. no way I want to attempt this right away. decadent :)

  6. Lovely,nothing to cook, i love this easy breezy dessert which looks gorgeous...send me some:)

  7. oh we just had baileys ice cream...n i was telling my hub that will make the middle of winter but thts the fun..will try bread ...nice one!

  8. 'Mix and freeze' does sound a lot easier :). I've never had kulfi but I loved your post about it! It's so interesting reading about the history of some of our favorite foods, this looks like it'd be a fun and flavorful summer treat.

  9. Calorific but doesn't mind to help anyone for another serving :) Adding bread crumb is quiet different!

  10. looks fabulous. i often make suganya's recipe - equal parts mango pulp (from a can) and sweetened condensed milk. that's it.

  11. Wow!! Yummy kulfi, Can I have one.

  12. Hi AD, what a lovely name you have coined as a blogger for yourself! Your writeup about ‘coolfix’ is a must try. Enjoyed reading the story of the origin of Kulfi!

  13. wonderful.....can i get some:-P.I love kulfi's and never tried making it.Will try this.

  14. Oh I love this... can I substitute condensed milk with something else, healthier?
    Nothing comes to my mind but maybe silken tofu, just to wierd you out! :)

  15. Ooh, yum! I've made kulfi the back breaking way, so am excited about this. My hips, however, are sulking.

  16. What purpose does the breadcrumb have in this recipe ?


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