I have a very special relation with kulfi.
Years ago in Oxford I was invited by an Australian friend (who today is one of the best Australian lawyers) to an Indian restaurant. I do not remember much from that dinner, except the wonderful company and a dessert that I ate that evening. The list of desserts was not very long and I was recommended to try kulfi--an Indian ice cream. That was my first and the only kulfi I have ever had.
A very frozen conical dessert was put before us, but the waiter did not leave. He was standing at our table with amusement on his face waiting to see our attempts to eat our kulfis with the spoons. It was an impossible task. Kulfis were extremely hard and the cones were jumping from the plates on the table each time we tried to take a scoop. The waiter enjoyed watching our fight for a long moment before he offered to bring forks. The whole incident frustrated me so much that, when I finally managed to taste my kulfi, I was not able enjoy it.
When thermometers hit 100 F last week and the only dessert I could think of was ice cream, I decided to face the challenge again and make kulfi by myself. Another reason for trying them was a big bottle of rose water that I bought once for a dessert and a year later it was still in my kitchen cabinet, probably already evaporating. My recipe, which I found in some British magazine soon after I had kulfi at that Indian restaurant, calls for rose water.
When I was preparing them I finally understood why kulfi is so hard when frozen. This is because it is made just from milk rather than cream and eggs, and therefore it has much lower fat content than regular ice cream. The whole process involves two steps--boiling milk slowly until it is reduced by half and later freezing it.
I was very impatient to try the final product again so, as some recipes advise, instead of reducing milk for hours I used evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is richer in fat than regular milk so my kulfi was not as hard and melted faster than that made the traditional way. I also did not have kulfi forms and used disposable 3 oz cups for that purpose. It worked well.
Rose Water Kulfi
Makes twelve 3 oz portions
1 12 oz cups evaporated milk,
1 cup whole milk,
6 cardamon pods,
3/4 cup granulated sugar,
1/4 cup ground almonds,
2 tbsp pistachios plus extra for decoration,
1 tsp rose water,
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Pour evaporated and whole milk in a saucepan. Add cardamon and bring to boil. Boil for a minute and set aside. Remove cardamon pods.
2. Stir in sugar and mix until dissolved, add almonds, and let it cool.
3. Cover pistachios with hot water and leave for about 2 minutes. Strain pistachios, remove all the loose skins and chop. Add to the milk.
4. Lightly whip the cream and fold into the milk and nuts mixture. Add rose water.
5. Transfer the mixture into a shallow freeze prof dish and put it in a freezer for about 4 hours. Take out beat with a fork to break ice and freeze again for an hour. Take out and transfer to individual small containers or 3 oz plastic cups.
6. Cover with plastic foil each container and freeze until firm, preferably overnight.
Serve decorated with shredded pistachios.