For my international friends who might not be aware of a kulfi, it is the most popular Indian version of ice cream. It is made with whole fat milk with sugar and a few nuts for flavor if desired. Special moulds made of either aluminium or plastic are used to make kulfis. Though you can use condensed milk to save on the time consuming process, nothing beats the taste of kulfi made the traditional and authentic way...by boiling and reducing the milk.
As you might know by now, I am just crazy about ice creams and I am super super mad over kulfis....mind you the authentic ones and not what you get nowadays in the stores or from the street vendors. Since the time I started working and my trips to meet up with my grandparents reduced, I started trying out kulfis where ever I saw them only with not so happy results. After marriage when I started cooking, most of it being desserts to satisfy my husband's never satisfied sweet tooth, I tried a lot of recipes for malai kulfis..from the internet, magazines...and where not. I even bought few of the so called "popular" and not so popular Indian authors cookbooks but the results were disappointing...none matched my salesman's kulfi taste.
How ironic it is that I found the recipe that I was looking for in a foreign national's cook book. On one of my monthly trips to a book store, I saw an ice cream book named The Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis. I briefly flipped through the pages and bought it for a large variety of ice cream flavors that it had. Once I returned home, I glanced at all the recipes and saw this Kulfi recipe. I wasn't very keen on trying it since I thought...what's the point? I mean a traditional Indian recipe from a foreign author? how credible could the recipe be? A few months later with the onset of the never forgiving Indian and specifically Mumbai summers, and my husband's constant pestering and cribbing for the absence of a kulfi, I half heartedly decided to give the kulfi recipe a try. After more that an hour of cooking and reducing the milk and leaving it in the freezer to set overnight, I was ready to taste it without any hopes.
To my utter shock, astonishment and horror(in a good way), the taste matched by 99 % to what I was searching for more than 4 years. One percent lacking since I had not dipped it in the coarse milky solution. Had Joanna and Sara been in front of me at that moment, I would have kissed them. I would therefore like to thank Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis for the recipe, the publication for publishing this book and.....okay I know this is not an award acceptance speech and I am probably going overboard with this, but I would like them to know how grateful I am.
Enough with my talking, let's get to the recipe.
Note: This is a time consuming process but the results are more than worth the effort. If you do not have kulfi moulds, use lolly moulds without the tops or even disposable plastic cups. No matter what you use, the taste would be the same....absolutely heavenly.
Makes 4 Kulfis
1.5 litres or 2+1/2 pints or 6+1/4 cups full fat milk
3 cardamom pods
25 grams or 1 ounce caster sugar
50 grams blanched almonds or unsalted pistachios or a combination of both, optional (I haven't used them).
Pour the milk into a large heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour stirring occasionally.
Crush the cardamom pods in a mortar and add the pods along with the seeds to the milk. Stir. Let simmer for 1 to 1+1/2 hours more until the mixture reduces to about 2 cups to about 500 ml or 2 cups.
Add the caster sugar, stir well and simmer for another 2 mins until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Remove the cardamom pods by hand if you can or else strain the milk mixture into a jug. Leave to cool.
If using the nuts, grind half of them in a blender. Cut the remaining nuts into thin slivers and set aside for decoration. Stir the ground nuts into the milk mixture.
Pour the mixture into the kulfi moulds, cover with the kulfi lids and freeze overnight(Before pouring the mixture into the moulds, I usually blend the mixture just for 2 to 3 secs, to give it a smooth texture).
To remove the kulfis from the mould, you can either run each mould with the lid on under a tap of running hot water or fill a bowl with hot water, stand the kulfi mould in the bowl and count to ten. Remove the mould. Unscrew the lid and invert the mould on a serving plate and tap a little if required. If you have very warm hands(like mine), you can also rock and roll the moulds between the palms of both you hands instead of using the water.
Decorate with the slivered nuts and Enjoy.
Happy Ice Creaming!!!