By Angela Denstad Stigeler
We know milk and fresh fruits are healthy parts of a balanced diet, so imagine a way to get lots of each in a tasty summertime refresher! A cool treat on the Indian subcontinent, a kulfi is a frozen dessert of reduced milk, sweetened and flavored to taste. Saffron, pistachio, mango and rosewater are some of the more enduring flavors sold by kulfi vendors. Often compared with ice cream, kulfi is a bit different in that it should be dense and slow-melting, due to the long, slow simmering process of reducing the milk. Many quick versions rely solely on canned evaporated or condensed milk, which certainly works in a pinch, but alters the flavor. Here, I’ve combined the best of both, and paired some of those classic flavors into a very fun yet sophisticated popsicle. You can also freeze kulfi into ramekins or little pots and unmold them onto a plate for serving, if you’d rather. Of course, you’re less likely to end up with a kulfi mustache that way. But the smiles of those that try them will still be a sure sign that when you’ve got milk, and you’ve got mango, kulfi does a body good.
2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon cornstarch or rice flour
1 tablespoon cold water
a few threads of saffron (optional)
2 cups fresh mango pulp from 3-4 mangos
finely chopped shelled pistachios, optional
Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, as the milk starts to reduce, 15-20 minutes. Add in the
sweetened condensed milk and stir well to incorporate.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sugar and cardamom. Add the spiced sugar into the reduced milk mixture. Then, in the same small bowl, combine the cornstarch or flour with the water and mix to a paste. Stir this into the milk mixture and return to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon.
Off the heat, place a few threads of saffron on top of the milk and allow it to bloom. Stir the mixture as it cools to prevent a skin from forming. (To cool the mixture more quickly, plunge the saucepan into a bowl or sink full of ice water.)
Meanwhile, peel the mangoes and slice the flesh off the pits into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Use your hands to squeeze any remaining pulp from the pits. Puree into a smooth paste. Combine the cooled milk mixture with the mango puree and pour into ramekins, popsicle molds, or a large shallow dish, depending on how you plan to serve the kulfi. Place in the freezer until fully set, about 6-8 hours. Unmold and serve, garnished with chopped pistachios, if desired.