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An easy kulfi recipe to satisfy your summer sweet tooth

Spice up your typical ice cream rotation with kulfi — an Indian frozen treat

<p>The luscious texture of the kulfi also adds to the appeal as the resulting consistency is comparable to soft-serve ice cream or smooth frozen yogurt. &nbsp;</p>

The luscious texture of the kulfi also adds to the appeal as the resulting consistency is comparable to soft-serve ice cream or smooth frozen yogurt.  

With the summertime heat comes the craving for a sweet, cold dessert to cool you down after a blistering day of sunshine. While the conventional flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate, never disappoint, summer 2022 presents the perfect opportunity to venture outside of your comfort zone. Kulfi — synonymous to “Indian ice cream” — packages classic Indian spices into a refreshing, creamy treat, making it the perfect dessert to savor in the sun.

This frozen dish originated in the northern half of India under the rule of the Mughal Empire. “Kulfi” translates to “covered cup” in Persian, reflecting the traditional process used to freeze the treat. In the 16th century, individuals infused mixtures of milk and sugar with pistachios and saffron, poured them into metal cones and submerged the cones in a combination of ice and salt. With Himalayan ice, the finished product then traveled across various regions of Asia and ultimately gained enormous popularity throughout India.

Before trying this recipe, I bought kulfi from the freezer aisles of Indian and American grocery stores. One such store, India Bazaar, has a Charlottesville location approximately four miles from the University. Wegmans and Costco also carry this dessert in the form of bars and pints, with brands offering a range of different flavors, including pistachio, mango and malai, or milk cream. Personally, mango kulfi is my favorite — the tropical, sweet flavor beautifully compliments the richness of the bar. 

With lots of free time this summer, I decided to make my own batch of homemade kulfi. I slightly adjusted some measurements and steps of a recipe from an online blog and ended up with a superb summertime sweet.

Prep time: 25 minutes, excluding chill time

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of saffron strands 
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 1 handful of roughly chopped pistachios (can adjust this depending on your taste)

Instructions:

  1. Combine 1 cup of heavy cream and the saffron strands in a medium-sized saucepan and stir occasionally at medium heat. Once the cream is gently boiling — meaning small, consistent bubbles form at the surface — turn off the stove. The mixture should have a thin consistency and pale yellow color. Allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating the cream for around 2 hours. 
  2. After 2 hours, use a whisk or an electric mixer on high speed to combine the chilled cream mixture with the remaining cup of heavy cream. Whisk together for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Mix in the can of sweetened condensed milk and cardamom powder and keep whisking until you have reached a consistency similar to whipped cream. 
  4. Add in about ¾ of the pistachios and mix until evenly combined. 
  5. Transfer your mixture to popsicle molds or any other freezer-friendly container, sprinkle the remaining pistachios on top and freeze overnight. 

This recipe strays from the traditional method of preparing kulfi, simplifying the process while still allowing Indian cuisine to shine through. The saffron threads and cardamom powder provide a zesty kick and subtle aroma — they don’t overpower one another, but they pair perfectly with the nuttiness of the pistachios. The luscious texture of the kulfi also adds to the appeal, as the resulting consistency is comparable to soft-serve ice cream or smooth frozen yogurt.  

With simple steps and a delicious final product, making this kulfi recipe is a must-do this season. Ditch the vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream for this Indian twist on a summertime favorite — trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

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