Indian Kulfi ice cream
Have you ever tried kulfi? This Indian specialty is a splendid reminder that there are other delicious schools of ice cream-making outside the Western world’s well-known ones. And best of all – you won’t even need an ice cream machine to make these great-tasting beauties!
While Italy often is credited with being the birthplace of ice cream as we know it today, the seeds to this important invention (if not even more than so) were brought there from the Orient. But let’s not get lost in endless speculations about whether Marco Polo really did bring the techniques with him from China, or to what extent the founding elements of ice cream making should be credited to the Moors, the Persians or the inhabitants of the Mughal empire which once spanned the Indian peninsula.
One thing is certain, however: kulfi – the classic Indian ice cream – is as delicious as it is classic!
Preparing Kulfi the classic way …
In short, the classic preparation is fairly straightforward but requires quite a lot of time and patience: Basically, you need to reduce a lot of milk through patient simmering on a slow boil, which means a lot of stirring for about two hours or so. Once the milk has been reduced to half its volume, you add the flavour and the sugar, then let it all simmer some more before you let it all cool down and freeze it into kulfi.
While I’m typically all for genuine production-methods, we will forego the classic ways today, and instead look into a much quicker way that requires a minimum of effort. Granted, some would say this amounts to cheating, that the results do not match those of the patiently slow-boiled method, but I’d say it still suffices quite well! And by all means – if you try kulfi the quick way, why not set aside a couple of hours and compare by doing it the classic way?
Preparing Kulfi the quick way!
It could hardly be easier, really – arm yourself with a can of sweetened condensed milk, cream and milk! Add some crushed cardamom and let it all cook together for a few minutes. Let the base cool down. Then pour the base in suitable moulds and freeze them in your freezer a couple of hours.
And unlike your typical still-freezing (= the process of making ice cream using only your freezer and no ice cream machine), there is no need to stir the kulfis during their time in the freezer: you just put them in there, let them freeze and they are ready to enjoy!
Now, some of you may have tried incorporating sweetened condensed milk in your ice cream recipes already (it is, after all, one quick way of boosting structure and texture) but the kulfi will still be different from your ‘normal’ ice cream.
Kulfis can traditionally be flavoured in many different ways, but since cardamom not only happens to be a very classic kulfi flavour but also one of my personal favourites, my choice was easy. I should also add that for those who so wish, you could also serve the kulfis with pieces of pistacchio nuts/blanched almonds.
If you are unable to lay your hands on some “classic” kulfi moulds, just use what you have! While normal ice lolly-moulds will do, I personally prefer to use ordinary plastic cups: fill them up, put them in the freezer and you’re done. No need for sticks, and the resulting form will roughly resemble the “classic” kulfi-shape too.
Kulfi is truly a delicious reminder that the global family of ice creams offers so much great variety. And kulfi is painstakingly simple to make – the fact that you’re not even supposed to use an ice cream machine to make them is another clear advantage. And since mixing the base with sweetened condensed milk reduces the preparation time to, like, five minutes, kulfi might actually turn out to be a real saviour whenever you need to make ice cream really fast and effortless!
Granted, the classic, more time consuming way of preparation (reducing milk through simmering for a couple of hours or so) arguably makes the kulfi even better but I still vouch for this shortcut: “Better the kulfi that actually gets made and is enjoyed than the kulfi that only gets read about and not made”, right? And trust me: even the quick kulfi is really good!
So, what are you waiting for? Off you go now, and get that can of sweetened condensed milk and a few plastic cups!
- 200 ml (0.85 cup) whole milk
- 200 ml (0.85 cup) cream
- 150 ml (2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk
- about 1½-2 teaspoons crushed cardamom
- (optional: pieces of pistachio nuts or blanched almonds)
- Mix all ingredients (except for the nuts/almonds, if using) in a saucepan, bring to a simmering boil and let cook together for a few minutes.
- Take off from the heat and let cool down.
- Once the base is cool, fill your moulds (plastic cups will do just fine!) and put them in your freezer.
- Freeze for at least a couple of hours - ready!