Churning milk with 2 sticks or a wooden whisk in a circular bowl for hours under the moonlight is the original, if romantic, method of creating this magical dessert. This version (using electric beaters) gives you comparable results in about half the time—and more recently, Indian chefs have used nitrogen to speed up the process in restaurants or at home.
I suspect the recipe has strayed considerably from its original, but I like the subtle colors and flavors of this version, a combination of many I have tried. If you shut your eyes, it may even conjure up visions of a busy marketplace teeming with the smells and sounds of life in a historic old marketplace.
Note on bura: Bura may be difficult to source, but you can easily make your own at home. This is a good guide: http://www.rachnas-kitchen.com/how-to-make-tagar-or-boora-sugar-at-home/ —Lathika George
4 small bowls' worth
cream of tartar
bura (or boora, an unrefined powdered brown sugar; see note above)
To make the kurchan: Cook 1 cup milk down to an almost-dry clotted consistency over low heat so it doesn't burn. It should end up with a slightly crumbly texture and no color.
Combine milk, cream, cream of tartar, and bura in a large bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
Whisk the cold milk mixture with an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, stopping occasionally to remove the froth onto a platter with a wide spoon (and not allowing the cream to be beaten into stiffness—you're looking for steady but soft froth here). When the platter is full of the clouds, drizzle with saffron milk and top with crumbled kurchan and sheets of varq. (Alternatively, spoon the froth into smaller shallow dishes.)
Shake over the ground pistachios with a sieve and top with the chopped pistachios.
If you can't serve immediately, keep refrigerated and serve within a few hours.