Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert also called as traditional Indian Ice Cream that is widely known for its rich and creamy flavors. This one is a beginner friendly no-churn ice cream recipe that doesn't require any machine!
Kulfi recipe is made by reducing milk in a pot/pan over stove top till it gets thick. Then sweetener of choice, heavy cream, nuts, cardamon and spices are added to the mix. It is then filled in molds and then you chill it in freezer till set.
What is Kulfi?
Kulfi is a kind of ice cream that originated in India but is now adored around the globe. Loaded with milky flavors, nuts and spices like saffron and cardamom it is definitely the best way to end a spicy meal. Or just to cool off during hot summer days!
Traditionally it is made by boiling and reducing full fat milk till it gets extremely thick (reduced to 70% of the original volume). It may take around 30-45 minutes of active cooking time. Then sugar, spices and nuts are added and the mix is set in the freezer.
Today we are making a quicker version of this all time favorite ice cream. Here we are using evaporated milk and heavy cream as the base of this ice cream. Since evaporated milk is already a thicker version of milk, it will take lesser amount of time to get to a thicker consistency over heat.
For sweetener we are using condensed milk. You can either use store bought or make your own sweetened Condensed Milk if you like.
This ice cream recipe requires minimal ingredients and is a very versatile one.
Like you can add and skip the spices as per your taste preferences. Make the base of ice cream and then flavor choices are unlimited too. Let see what we will need to create this frozen dessert:
- Evaporated Milk: We are using a can of evaporated milk and thickening it for some time to create that milky base and flavor. You can also use full fat milk and reduce it till it remains 30% in volume on stove top.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: This is hands down the best sweetener to use in ice creams. It is typically used in many no-churn ice cream recipes.
- Heavy Cream: Cream compliments the milky flavors here very well. It also makes the kulfi very creamy and thick (in a good way of course!). Use full fat cream for best texture.
- Spices: Traditionally cardamom and saffron are used to flavor this frozen treat. But you can use just one out of the two if you wish. Also a little rose water can be added here.
- Nuts: Pistachios are widely used in this recipe. But you can pretty much use any nuts of choice like almonds or even cashews. You can add chopped nuts or even pulse them in a blender to a fine powder and add to kulfi base.
How to make Kulfi:
- Add condensed milk and evaporated milk to a sauce pan or any heavy base pan and bring it to a boil. Now let it simmer it for 15-17 minutes over medium heat.
- Add chopped/ground nuts to the milk and mix.
- Also add heavy cream to milk when it cools down.
- Blend this mix till it gets to a creamy consistency. This step is optional, but it makes the kulfi super creamy and lighter in texture.
- Pour the mixture in kulfi molds and stick it in freezer for 6-8 hours.
- Once the popsicle is set, take the lids off of all molds.
- Dip the mold in warm water for a few seconds for easy removal.
- Popsicle will loosen up and come out of the mold very easily this way.
- Top with more chopped pistachios and saffron strands if desired.
- Kulfi sets best in aluminum molds, however you can also set them in other molds. Pour milk mixture in the molds.
- I use wooden sticks instead of the ones that come with the plastic molds. These sticks stick deeper in popsicles making it easy to take them out once set.
- Seal the molds with cling wrap and freeze the mold.
- Dip the mold in water for a few seconds before taking the popsicles out.
To make a quick kulfi:
There are so many kulfi recipes out there that are made traditionally by boiling and reducing full fat milk. But if you are pressed on time or don't want to make ice cream from scratch, try it this way-
Add the following to a blender-
- 1 ¼ cups evaporated milk
- 1 ¼ cups sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (16 ounce) container frozen whipped topping (thawed) or you can take 2 cups heavy cream too.
- 4 slices white bread, torn into pieces
- ½ teaspoon saffron strands
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Blend in until everything is smooth and the pieces of bread disappear into the mixture. Then add and mix in
- ⅓ cup chopped or ground pistachios
Now pour this mixture into molds and freeze till set. Absolutely no cooking and no boiling is required here. Let your blender do all the job and let freezer do the rest!
This milk base can be used to create a lot of kulfi variations. Here are some inspirations for you to try-
- Mango: Add ½ cup of mango puree to this base mixture before freezing.
- Orange: add ¾ cup of thawed Orange juice concentrate (found in the frozen section) to this mix and set till frozen.
- Strawberry: Mix ½ cups of strawberry preserves with chunks or reduced strawberry puree to the mix and freeze then.
- Toasted Almonds: Add ⅓ cup of toasted almonds and ½ teaspoon almond extract to the mix and freeze popsicles till set.
- Rose: Add 1 and ½ teaspoons of rose water extract and skip saffron and cardamom in this case.
- Vanilla: Add one teaspoon pure vanilla extract before freezing the mix. Cut spices in half if you want vanilla to shine trough.
Taking care of small things will make sure you are rewarded with perfect creamy and rich popsicles.
Why kulfi is not freezing: Number one reason for the popsicles not setting could be that, your freezer is over crowded. Let molds breath in your freezer and this ice cream will set quickly.
If the popsicles have not set with in 5-6 hours, be patient with them and let them chill in the freezer for a little longer or over night.
My ice cream is icy: Ice crystals can form if you have not boiled the full fat milk/evaporated milk long enough. Almost all the moisture should leave the milk before you set it.
How to fix ice cream with ice crystals: You can rescue your ice cream from being icy by blending the set ice cream in blender again till a thick mix is formed.
Now set this again in molds till completely frozen. Blending the ice cream twice will get rid of the ice crystals that formed in it.
The idea is to thicken the ice cream so that the crystals disappear from the ice cream. To encourage that, you can also add 2-3 tablespoons of milk powder in the blender along with the set kulfi.
Alternatively, you can add 1-2 slices of white bread (tear it into small pieces before blending) with the set ice cream and blend it all again. Then freeze the mix to allow it to set.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Both of them are frozen desserts. However, latter is more airy and creamy in texture than former. While former is rich, dense and more flavorsome to taste.
This is often known as traditional Indian Ice cream since it has its routes in the Indian sub-continent.
This name is derived from the Persian word qulfi, which means a “covered cup.” Traditionally, this ice cream is set in large cylindrical shaped molds/cups. That large popsicle is then divided into 4 generous servings.
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- 1 Blender
- 1 Sauce Pan/ any Heavy Bottom Pan
- 14 Ounces Evaporated Milk
- 14 Ounces Condensed Milk
- 1 and ½ Cups Heavy Cream
- 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
- ½ teaspoon Saffron Strands
- ⅓-½ Cups Chopped/Ground Pistachios (or nuts of choice)
- ¼ cup Chopped pistachios
- a few strands of Saffron
- In a heavy bottomed pan/sauce pan bring evaporated milk and condensed milk to a boil. Simmer them for 15 minutes over medium heat, stir frequently to avoid milk from scorching.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. As the milk is cooling, add cardamon, saffron and nuts to it. Also mix heavy cream t the mix and blend everything in a blender till the mix gets foamy and creamy.
- Pour in popsicle molds (I use aluminum ones) and allow to set completely in freezer for at least 6 hours. Chilling the molds overnight works best.
- Take the molds out of freezer and dip/run them through warm water for a few seconds for easy removal of popsicles.
- Top with chopped nuts and saffron strands right before serving.