Denser and creamier than ice cream, Kulfi is a traditional Indian frozen dessert that comes in myriad exotic flavors. This simple Kulfi recipe is made with khoya (a.k.a. mawa which is evaporated milk solids), and only takes a few minutes to put together. Try this delightfully easy and delicious treat today!
Kulfi (or Kulfi Ice Cream) is one of our family’s favorite desserts. Mom would make different types of kulfi, and Dad would get mixed kulfi from a shop on his way home from work. Preparing and serving kulfi reminds me of growing up, making it a very nostalgic treat.
In the hot summers in India, Kulfi is a much sought after dessert. I still remember the kulfi wallah (a vendor selling kulfi) carrying a large earthen pot on his head and selling kulfi door-to-door.
In the hot months of April and May, we would always ask him to stop and serve us kulfi. He would remove kulfi from the moulds and slice them on a large serving leaf – so eco-friendly! I also have fond memories of eating kulfi at the Chowpatty beach in Mumbai.
There the vendors would serve us kulfi with falooda (cornstarch vermicelli), sabja seeds (sweet basil seeds) and rose syrup. They had so many varieties of kulfi and I would always struggle to decide which one to order!
There are many ways kulfi ice cream can be made. Traditionally kulfi is made from thickening milk to the consistency of the delightful Indian sweet known as Rabdi. It can also be made with sweetened condensed milk.
In this recipe, I have added khoya (also known as mawa) to quicken the cooking time. Khoya is evaporated milk solids and imparts a lot of flavor and taste to the kulfi.
This kulfi recipe is very easy and does not take tons of time. I have added pistachios and almonds, but you can customize the flavoring to your own liking. So let’s make this wonderful cooling dessert together, shall we?
How To Make Kulfi Recipe
1. In a heavy and wide pan or kadai (Indian wok), heat 3 cups milk on a low flame for at least 18 to 20 minutes. The milk will reduce and thicken in this period of time.
Do remember to stir the milk often so that it does not scorch or burn at the bottom of the pan.
2. Dissolve 1.5 tablespoons of rice flour or 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of milk. Mix very well. Set aside.
I prefer rice flour instead of cornstarch for thickening kulfi as it gives a creamy texture.
3. Grate 75 to 80 grams of khoya (mawa) or crumble it very well to a fine texture. There should be no large pieces or lumps.
Process the nuts (20 shelled unsalted pistachios and 20 almonds) to a semi-fine consistency in a dry grinder or in a mortar-pestle. Keep them aside.
Make Kulfi Base
4. After 18 to 20 minutes, add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the reduced milk and mix well. Keep scraping the milk solids from the sides and reincorporating them into the simmering milk.
5. When the sugar has dissolved and after 3 to 4 minutes, add the rice flour or cornstarch paste. Keep stirring while adding the rice flour paste so that no lumps are formed.
Continue stirring for several minutes until the milk thickens. If any small lumps form, then break them with the spatula or spoon.
6. After 4 to 5 minutes, when the mixture has thickened, add the grated khoya (mawa), powdered almonds & pistachios, and ½ teaspoon cardamom powder (or about 4 green cardamoms crushed in a mortar-pestle).
7. Stir very well and simmer for a minute or two on a low heat. Keep stirring so that the khoya (evaporated milk solids) is evenly distributed.
8. Switch off the heat. Add 1 teaspoon rose water or kewra water (pandanus water) and crushed saffron – about 25 to 30 saffron strands that have been crushed.
Taste test the mixture and add more sugar if needed according to your taste preferences.
9. Let the mixture cool at room temperature, then pour the mixture in kulfi moulds, serving bowls, a tray or in shot glasses. Be sure to scrape the milk solids from the sides of the pan and add them to the mixture.
10. Cover with lids or aluminum foil and freeze overnight or for a day until the kulfi is frozen and set.
11. Once the kulfi is frozen solid, unmould it by sliding a butter knife at the edges, rubbing the mould between your palms or dipping the mould in warm water to loosen it.
Remove from the mould, slice and serve immediately. You can also serve kulfi directly in the serving bowls or glasses, or add it to falooda.
Sure! Use coconut cream in place of the khoya (mawa) and use full-fat coconut milk or almond milk in place of dairy. But do make sure not to boil the coconut milk or almond milk and only gently heat them.
There is no need to reduce and cook the coconut milk or almond milk for 15 to 20 minutes. Note that coconut milk or almond milk will give a different consistency, texture and flavor to the kulfi.
Sounds like you might not have reduced the milk quite enough. Also, be sure to use full fat milk (whole milk) and to stir the milk solids back into the mixture. Finally, be sure that you cover the kulfi while it freezes.
I personally prefer the texture of rice flour for thickening, but you can also use cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot powder if you prefer.
Of course! Use whichever nuts you prefer.
For the best flavor and texture, I recommend you eat the frozen kulfi within 3 to 4 days.
Yep! Swap in ¼ to ⅓ cup condensed milk if you prefer and skip adding sugar.
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Kulfi Recipe (Kulfi Ice Cream)
- 3 cups whole milk
- 75 to 80 grams Mawa (khoya or evaporated milk) – about 3.5 to 4 tablespoon mawa
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar or white sugar – adjust as required.
- 1.5 tablespoons Rice Flour or 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons milk – to dissolve the rice flour or cornstarch
- 20 pistachios – shelled and unsalted
- 20 almonds
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder or 4 green cardamoms powdered in a mortar-pestle and husks removed
- 1 teaspoon rose water or kewra water (pandanus water) or a drop of kewra essence or rose essence
- 25 to 30 saffron strands – crushed
Reducing milk and preparation for kulfi
- In a wide pan or kadai, heat milk on a sim or low flame for at least about 18 to 20 mins. The milk will reduce and thicken in this period of time. Keep on stirring the milk often as it simmers so that it does not burn from the bottom in the pan.
- Grate the khoya or crumble it very well to a fine texture. Set aside. Crush the pistachios and almonds to a semi fine consistency in a dry grinder or in a mortar-pestle. Keep both of them aside.
- Crush the green cardamom pods in a mortar-pestle and powder finely. Discard the husks.
- Dissolve the rice flour or cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of milk. Mix very well. Set aside.
- After 18 to 20 minutes of the milk simmering, add the sugar and stir.
- Let the sugar dissolve and after 3 to 4 mins, add the rice flour paste or cornstarch paste.
- Keep on stirring after adding the paste, so that no lumps are formed.
- The whole mixture has to be lump free, so keep on stirring.
- After 4 to 5 mins, when the mixture has thickened, add the khoya (mawa), powdered almonds and pistachios together with the cardamom powder.
- Stir very well and just simmer for a minute or two on a low heat. Keep on stirring so that the khoya (mawa) is distributed evenly.
- Switch off the heat.
- Add rose water or kewra water and crushed saffron. Do a taste test of the mixture and add more sugar if needed.
- Let the mixture cool at room temperature.
- Then pour the mixture in kulfi moulds or in serving bowls or small glasses or in popsicle moulds.
- Freeze the kulfi overnight or for a day. Once the kulfi is well set and frozen, remove it by sliding a butter knife at the edges.
- Remove on a glass plate or wooden tray. Slice the kulfi and serve immediately. If frozen in a popsicle mold or tray serve as kulfi popsicles.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Kulfi recipe post from the blog archives first published in May 2014 has been updated and republished on April 2022.