Kulfi Recipe

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Denser and creamier than ice cream, Kulfi is a traditional Indian sweet 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!

sliced kulfi with a spoon on a white plate

About Kulfi

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?

Step-by-Step Guide

How To Make Kulfi Recipe

Prep

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.

heat milk in kadai

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.

add rice flour to milk for making kulfi

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.

crumbled khoya on a plate next to a grinder bowl full of ground nuts

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.

adding sugar to thickened milk for making kulfi recipe

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.

adding starch slurry to kulfi ice cream mixture

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).

add khoya and dry fruits to kulfi mixture

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.

kulfi ice cream mixture after adding nuts and khoya

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.

adding saffron

Freeze

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.

cool the kulfi ice cream mixture before adding it to moulds

10. Cover with lids or aluminum foil and freeze overnight or for a day until the kulfi is frozen and set.

covered kulfi containers

Unmould and Enjoy!

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.

kulfi ice cream with khoya on a white plate and sliced

FAQs

Can I make this vegan?

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.

Why did my kulfi ice cream end up icy?

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.

What is the best thickener to use?

I personally prefer the texture of rice flour for thickening, but you can also use cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot powder if you prefer.

Can I use different nuts?

Of course! Use whichever nuts you prefer.

How long does kulfi last?

For the best flavor and texture, I recommend you eat the frozen kulfi within 3 to 4 days.

Can I use condensed milk instead of khoya?

Yep! Swap in ¼ to ⅓ cup condensed milk if you prefer and skip adding sugar.

More Indian Desserts To Try!

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sliced kulfi with a spoon on a white plate

Kulfi Recipe (Kulfi Ice Cream)

Denser and creamier than ice cream, Kulfi is a traditional Indian sweet that comes in myriad exotic flavors. This simple kulfi recipe is made with khoya, and only takes a few minutes to put together.
4.87 from 43 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Cuisine Indian
Course Desserts
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions
 

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.

Making kulfi

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • To make a vegan kulfi use coconut cream instead of khoya (mawa) and full-fat coconut milk or almond milk in place of dairy. But make sure not to boil the coconut milk or almond milk and only gently heat it. There is no need to reduce and cook the coconut milk or or almond milk for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • You can add your choice of nuts and flavorings. Skip the saffron if you do not have them. 
  • Simply scale the batch up to make a larger serving for small parties. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Kulfi Recipe (Kulfi Ice Cream)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 382 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 36mg12%
Sodium 168mg7%
Potassium 545mg16%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 552IU11%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Vitamin D 3µg20%
Vitamin E 2mg13%
Vitamin K 2µg2%
Calcium 526mg53%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 7µg2%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 65mg16%
Phosphorus 334mg33%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Kulfi recipe post from the blog archives first published in May 2014 has been republished and updated on 28 April 2022.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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123 Comments

  1. I am a big follower of your recipe styles the way you share it and presented it on site is amazing. I have tried few of them they all tastes yummy ???? . Keep sharing such tips for beginners like us it helps to preserve the taste and flavours of Indians.????????????????????5 stars

    1. thank you very much deepika. so glad to read your feedback. i try to add tips wherever possible so that a beginner can make the recipe easily. thanks again.

  2. Just made this – vegan style – dipped my finger in while its cooling off – yum! I used coconut cream/ a little coconut milk/a little soya (as didnt have a lot in villa and going to the shops is a major trek!)
    Everything else the same I just increased the cardamon/almond/pistachio part by a little!
    I was surprised as it actually doesn’t taste of coconut (hence my increasing the other tastes!) thankfully – as my big grind in using coconut cream/milk you usually have the underlying taste coconut…I shall try this out on my husband tomorrow – though he loves all the things i cook!! Thank you will post to Insta too! Namaste5 stars

    1. namaste. thanks for sharing these variations. the kulfi should of taste of coconut. both coconut milk and coconut cream always give a coconut taste to any recipe they are added. so wondering why and how ? my only guess is the addition of soy milk and the increased cardamom and nuts. sure i will check on insta. thanks again.

    1. it depends on the quality of glass. if the quality is good and then glass does not break.

  3. Hi, i tried your recipe. But mine didn’t come out so well. It tasted more like frozen rabdi than kulfi. One thing I did different was I added condensed milk. And I froze rabdi in paper cups. So it became dry, not like the one shown in your final pic, dripping milk out of the kulfi.
    What could have made my kulfi dry?4 stars

    1. looks like the rabdi mixture has become too dry. this could be the reason. also avoid using paper cups. reason being they will absorb the liquids and thus the kulfi mixture will become dry.

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