Kulfi is a popular Indian dessert much like ice cream, however denser and creamier. It is often referred to as Indian Ice Cream. Since the word “kulfi” is derived from the Persian word for a covered cup, the dessert likely originated in the Mughal Empire, which was the Muslim Persianate dynasty that ruled India in the 16th to 18th centuries.
The mixture of dense evaporated milk was already popular in Hindu sweet dishes, and during the Mughal period, this mixture was flavored with pistachios and saffron, packed into metal cones and immersed in slurry ice, resulting in the invention of Kulfi. Ain-i-Akbari, a detailed record of the Mughal emperor Akbar’s administration, mentions use of saltpeter for refrigeration as well as transportation of Himalayan ice to warmer areas, which was used in the preparation of kulfi in the royal kitchens.
The once royal dessert is traditionally sold in India by vendors called kulfiwalas, who keep the kulfi frozen by placing the molds inside a large earthenware pot called a matka, filled with ice and salt. It is served on a leaf or frozen onto a stick. It can be garnished with pistachios, cardamom, and similar items. Kulfi comes in various flavors. The more traditional ones are cream (malai), rose, mango, cardamom (elaichi), saffron (kesar or zafran), and pistachio kulfi.
With warm summertime weather and lots of mangoes available, which have most likely been pulped by now, Mango Kulfi is the perfect soothing Indian dessert. Here is a very simple recipe for Mango Kulfi that requires absolutely no cooking.
1 can condensed milk
¾ cup fresh ripe mango puree
½ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp cardamom powder
- In a bowl whip heavy cream and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In another bowl, add condensed milk, mango puree and cardamom powder and beat until well combined.
- Add the beaten chilled cream and mix well until combined.
- Pour the mixture into kulfi molds until 3/4 full. Seal the molds and freeze for at least 5-6 hours (If not using molds, pour into a bowl and cover well).
- To serve out of molds, place molds under warm tap water for a few seconds so that the kulfi releases easily from the mold.
- Serve on desert plates or insert popsicle sticks into the molded mango kulfi.