Kulfi (Indian Ice Cream)

Photo by shellfish/flickr

Serves 12.


1 litre/2 pints/4 cups full cream milk
400 ml/14 oz can full cream evaporated milk
400 ml/14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
300 ml/10 fl oz dairy cream
1 small can reduced cream (optional)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 bruised cardamom pods
1/4 cup pistachio kernels
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
4 drops kewra essence
few drops green food colouring (optional)


In an enamel or stainless steel saucepan with a heavy base put the milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream, cardamom pods and sugar. Stir constantly over medium heat until the milk mixture comes to the boil, moving the spoon all over the base of the pan to prevent the milk solids sticking and scorching. Once it has reached boiling point, reduce the heat to its lowest point and simmer gently, without covering pan, for 20-30 minutes so milk reduces in volume. It is not necessary to stir during this time, as the milk will not scorch if the initial stirring has been done.

Blanch the pistachio kernels for 1 minute in boiling water, drain and run cold water over them, then slip off the skins and chop the pistachios finely. Mix cornflour with 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into the simmering milk, raise heat slightly and bring to the boil to cook the cornflour and thicken the milk.

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. A skin will form on the surface, but simply stir this into the milk (it adds texture). Add the kewra essence and colour a pale green with food colouring if preferred. If using an ice-cream churn, chill the mixture well before starting to churn.

If a churn is not available it may be still-frozen, then broken into chunks and pureed in a food processor until smooth but not melted. Stir in the pistachios at this stage, return to trays and freeze. Soften at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with extra blanched pistachios.

If cone-shaped moulds are available, stir the mixture well before filling each mould so the nuts are evenly distributed. Freeze until firm. Unmold by dipping the mold in slightly warm water just long enough to allow the kulfi to slip onto a plate.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)