Traditional kulfi is a dense, almost chewy, frozen treat that dates back to the 16th century in India. It takes hours of vigilant simmering and stirring to reduce milk down to a quarter of its volume. As you probably suspect, this recipe is not traditional kulfi.
This breezier version from Meera Sodha, author of Made in India and Fresh India, combines the modern convenience of tinned evaporated milk with the fresh richness of cream. It requires nothing more than heating them to a boil, then cooling all the way down—either in traditional conical kulfi molds, or in ice pop molds or small paper cups. As the mix cools, the cardamom and rose water latch on and waft through with a spicy floral lightness, calming and sweet. Make it just like this for well-honed balance, or use the same basic recipe to infuse saffron, pistachios, vanilla beans, or other delicate flavors that shine best on a pure palate. Recipe adapted slightly from Genius Desserts (Ten Speed Press, September 2018). —Genius Recipes
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Meera Sodha’s Cardamom & Rose Water Kulfi
6 to 8
(12-ounce/354ml) can evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups
(295g) heavy cream
Fresh fruit, for serving (optional)
Dried rose petals or chopped pistachios, for topping (optional, see Genius Tip below)
Crush the cardamom pods lightly to free the seeds inside; then discard the outer green pods. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the seeds as finely as you can.
Combine the evaporated milk, cream, sugar, rose water, and ground cardamom in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, stirring often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When it starts to boil, remove from the heat and set the pot in a larger bowl of ice water to cool it down, stirring the mixture occasionally. When the mixture is cold, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup or other container with a spout. Pour the strained mixture into kulfi molds, ice pop molds, or another freezable container. Cover tightly and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.
To remove the kulfis from their molds, dip them into hot water for a second, turn them upside down over a plate and give them a sharp tap on the top.
Serve with fresh fruit or by themselves. Store any leftovers airtight in the freezer.
Genius Tip: For extra-fetching pops (and to give a sneak preview on the flavor), The Fearless Baker author Erin Jeanne McDowell sprinkles ingredients like dried rose petals or chopped pistachios on the exposed surface of her ice pops (or kulfis, as the case may be) once the base is firm enough that the topping won’t sink in, usually after about 1 hour of freezing.