So, here in the throes of high summer, we find it imperative to have that incessant supply of iced creamy treats filling all five shelves of the icebox; it's either that or climb into the freezer yourself, which may or may not have happened in this kitchen more than a few times. And even if I do have a good arsenal of quality store-bought variety packs hanging around, I like to get creative and do DIY frozen love whenever craving strikes. And so a few days prior, I aimed for that popsicle of exotic dimension, luxe, with accessible ingredients that brings on broad smiles from all the sidekicks I share house with, even four legged, furry types.
Kulfi is the Indian's equivalent to ice cream, albeit a richer, more indulgent one. Unlike it's Westernized more popular counterpart, there is no churning or whipping of air involved in creating its lush, cream body. Instead it's form is credited to a slow heat- induced milk evaporation, resulting in downright fantastic results.
Regal through it's roots, kulfi was believed to have once been served in Persian kitchens. I cannot think of any greater reason to usher it into yours since we all aspire to be Masterlords of our culinary domain. Wishful thinking maybe, but it doesn't hurt to dream.
These days, iced treats are carted and sold in street corners by vendors throughout the Indian subcontinent. Why, there are even fancy contraptions to roller your kulfi cream straight to a bowl. Citizens of all strata harken to the kulfi caller's beckon, stand on public roads, kulfilicking like it's nobody's business. That was encouragement for the awkward 12 year old who was visiting an aunt, standing on a busy street in the Nation's capital consuming not one, but two rapidly melting stick-kulfis. Yes, that would be me and I believe all was fine with the world that day.
A mention should be made that you can build on to this milk+sugar classic with many flattering flavor agents. Today we've paired it with bits of saffron and a fair amount of pulped mango, a move that creates altogether interesting dimensions of floral-tart settling into the caramelized malt-ey notes. Still, it all boils down to the milk (pun intended) which if flamed, stirred and reduced properly furnishes in a base that brings plush velvet, distinctly smooth cream-ice quality.
And is it me, or does holding a cylindrical confection on stick make you feel kidlike several times over?
Need I go further? This may just be your new rave popsicle, a pleasure your few/maybe one remaining week(s) of summer is screaming for.
Since I seem to have misplaced the pack of 500 p-sticks I had on hand, halved plastic straws did the trick. However, they didn't hold well towards end and left us slurping half melted chunks from plates. No one's complaining.
Sometimes, the things that go in deserve a spotlight of their own.
Can you see? Stir, stir and we're almost there!
(Riffed from this here video-prepare to be entertained:))
(yields approximately 15-20 pops)
- 2 cups milk (whole is ideal)
- 3-5 saffron threads
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1 ½ c canned mango pulp
- 3 tbsp crushed nuts, either pistachios, almonds or both
- Heat milk and saffron in a heavy set wide pan over medium high. While stirring, bring contents to a boil.
- Reduce to a low medium and allow to simmer, all the while stirring the milk for about 20 minutes until the mixture reduces to half its original volume and it becomes relatively thick.
- Keeping flame to medium, add the sugar to this and stir to dissolve granules over heat. Continue to cook for approximately another 10 minutes.
- Add cream and cook further for 2-3 minutes.
- Allow the milk to cool completely, then stir in the mango pulp and combine well.
- Add nuts. Stir well.
- Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
- Freeze until molds are firm.
No molds? No worries! Pour contents into disposable plastic cups, cover tightly with foil and poke centers of filled cups with sticks.
Colorful kulfi. Far exceeds any popsicle expectation you've in any way had.