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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Zaafraani Kulfi
(Indian Ice-Cream)
Serves 8-10

There is no dessert as popular in the northern summer as Kulfi. This Indian version of ice cream is greatly addictive. In restaurants and street side vending carts, Kulfi is served with Falooda (Indian noodles) and a gentle dab of rose water. The frozen dense ice cream the silky playful noodles and the tingling floral bouquet from the rose water, are a perfect counter to the scorching afternoon sun. I also remember weddings where Kulfi frozen in individual terracotta containers was served. Nothing matches the wonders of eating Kulfi holding a cold terracotta container. There is something magical about it. But the magic is close enough when walking down a crowded New York street and finding a Kulfi vendor selling Kulfi in New York City on sticks like Popsicles. And the magic continues when you make it at home, with love and a sense of how you will share with your guests something sublime, Kulfi makes for a great and fulfilling dessert.

1/2 gallon half and half
2 cans evaporated whole milk reserve two tablespoons of th
is for use later
I to 1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup blanched chopped almonds
1/4 cup blanched pistachios, chopped finely
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
8 to 10 cardamom pods, peeled, seeded and ground into fine powder
2 tablespoons ghee

1. In a heavy bottom pan pour 2 tablespoon water and then pour all the half and half. Bring to a boil over high flame. When the milk is boiling, lower heat to a very low simmer, and with a flat metal spatula, keep scraping the bottom of the pan as the milk cooks over a period of 3-4 hours.

2. As the milk is cooking and you are scraping the base of the pan, in another small pan, take the ghee and heat it over a low flame. Add the ground cardamom seed powder and the raisins and nuts. Sautee for close to 5 minutes till the nuts and raisins are brown but not burned. As and when the content of the pan are sticking to the bottom, you can pour some boiling half and half into the pan to add moisture.

3. The milk will start forming dry layers around the rim of the pan. Scrape these back into the milk and continue to cook, making sure no milk is sticking at the base. You really want to reduce the milk by as much as you can. Place a custard bowl into the freezer for using to test the thickness later.

4. After two hours of cooking, add the evaporated milk to the pan and cook for another hour or more. Make sure you keep scraping the pan to ensure that the milk is not sticking and burning. The milk should be reduced by no less than half of what you began with.

5. Add 1 cup sugar into the pan. Turn the fire off. Test sugar by pouring some of the custard into the bowl from the freezer. Place the bowl with the custard back in the freezer and take it out after 5 minutes. Taste for sugar and add more if you feel the need.

6. In a small frying pan, sauté the saffron strands on a very low flame for a minute or two. Till they darken but aren't burned. Once ready, pour them into a mortar and pestle. Grind into a fine powder.

7. To this fine powder, add the two tablespoons of evaporated milk and continue to blend it in the mortar and pestle. You will see how beautifully the color bleeds into the cream and also smell the intense aroma of saffron. Pour this into the custard.

8. Transfer into Kulfi Containers or into a bread pan or even ice trays. You can also set the Kulfi in Popsicle molds to serve it on sticks. Freeze until solid and serve as you would ice cream.

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Suvir, thanks so much for this recipe. What volume do you get BEFORE freezing? Starting with so much, but cooking it down for so long, it looks as though you'd only end up with about 1 quart, yes?

And is it all right to freeze it in an ice cream machine? I realize there will be a texture difference between something "quiescently frozen" as in your recipe, and something churned as it freezes. Would that be a bad thing?

One last question: if one is not terribly fond of rosewater (sorry!), what do you think of using orange-flower water instead? (You know how I love to mix cultures!)

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27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think it is around a quart. Maybe just a little over.
Of course, please skip the rose water. I do most of the time. I end up using Kewra or Orange blossom water myself. Kewra is screw pine essence. Available in most Indian stores.

I have never used an ice-cream machine. Maybe you want to try and tell us what happens.

Sometimes I have also made some caramel and added that to the milk towards just the end of its cooking. It gives another great flavor to the kulfi.
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