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!


Kulfi – a delicious member of the world family of ice creams. enough to  to the world family of ice cream types!

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.


– Anyone for kulfi? Popular all over the Indian subcontinent, kulfi is believed to have originated from the Mughal Empire, thus possibly dating back as far as to the 16th century.


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.



The secret to the easiness of this recipe – sweetened condensed milk! Alternatively, you may opt for the classic way, which involves slow-boiling milk for at least a couple of hours in order to reduce it to half. Done this way, you won’t need any cream either, but would have to add some sugar (unnecessary the quick way, where all sweetness comes with the sweetened condensed milk).

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.


While milk might be nice on its own, classic kulfi typically comes flavoured. One of the classics is cardamom. Peel a few pods and crush the cardamom for an alluring and rich flavour experience.


The moulds

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.


No dedicated kulfi moulds at hand? Super-ordinary plastic cups will actually provide for a very good replacement!



Once frozen, the plastic cups will quickly release the kulfis if you let some water stream over their exteriors … in other word: treat them just like any ‘normal’ ice cream mould

 Final results


Kulfi – prepared the quick way and frozen in a simple plastic cup … and still sooo delicious! Notice how all the crushed cardamom has ended up on top – a simple consequence of the spice particles having sunk to the bottom of the goblet during the freezing-in. If you hate physical traces of spice in your ice cream (I don’t), just sieve the base before freezing it.


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!



5.0 from 2 reviews
Indian Kulfi ice cream
Classic Indian kulfi is great but rather time-consuming. This quick and extremely easy version uses the addition of sweetened condensed milk and cream to speed up the process. And best of all - no need whatsoever for any ice cream machine!
  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. Take off from the heat and let cool down.
  3. Once the base is cool, fill your moulds (plastic cups will do just fine!) and put them in your freezer.
  4. Freeze for at least a couple of hours - ready!
If you are using pieces of nuts/almonds, these can either be added to the base going into the freezer [if put in from the start, the pieces will inevitably end up in the bottom of the moulds, i e on top] or sprinkled on and around the kulfi at the time of the serving.


If the size of  your kulfis overwhelms you – why not share with someone you like ?


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6 Responses

  1. Sonia Mehrotra says:

    Hi Anders,
    Found your kulfi recipe?….thanks for the link. I am now compelled to share my version of the shortcut ..please do give it a try. Been making it this way for the last 20 odd years!

    1 can condensed milk
    3 cans evaporated milk
    25-30 cashews (40 -50gm)
    2 tsp cardamom powder
    Few stands of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp milk(optional)
    Mixed chopped nuts

    Grind cashew to a paste In a mixer /blender after soaking in milk for a few minutes. Add all the milk Cans to the mixer/ blender and give it a quick churn just to mix every thing. Pour in a jug and Add cardamom, saffron and chopped nuts and mix well. Freeze in mould of your choice.

  2. Louise Saldanha says:

    Thanks for the website, love reading the different recipes. Here is my recipe for Indian Kulfi, please try it.

    1 Tin condensed milk, 1 Tin evaporated milk, 3 Tins Nestle Cream, 1 cup ground cashewnuts, 1/2 cup ground pistachios, 10 whole pods cardamom (ground), 4 to 5 slices white bread, corners removed, 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar or to taste and a small pinch of pink salt (brings out the flavour of the Kulfi).

    Soak the bread in the evaporated milk and then grind in the blender. In a big bowl beat the condensed milk and cream with an electric hand beater. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into kulfi containers and freeze. Serves 15 to 20 people. Alternatively place the mixture into a Tupperware Gel Ring Mould and freeze. Looks pretty when unmoulded on a glass platter. Enjoy!!!!

    PS: you may think it’s weird to add bread to an icecream recipe but it prevents ice crystals forming.

    • Anders says:

      Thanks Louise! Your recipe looks interesting: it’s the first time I come across bread used like this in ice creams!

  3. It was nice to go through your post. Thanks for sharing the recipe here. Keep up the good work.

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