Kulfi: Milky Cardamom Popsicles in the Pakistani Manner

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I am utterly excited as I have taken these photos with my brand new lens.

Ami made sure there was always a kulfi popsicle in our freezer for me, for an after-school snackette. The equatorial temperatures soared above 40C in Lagos, Nigeria and on a day like that, a kulfi popsicle was just the ticket. No tea and biscuits, just something cool, milky and creamy.

From the driveway, I would walk past the papaya trees in our garden, the fruit swollen and ready to be picked right off. Then into the kitchen, next to the banana trees, the little yellow crescents peeking out from between the emerald green glossy leaves. We used these bananas to  make milkshakes on Sunday mornings. I was 8 now, but I still wanted to drink it in my Peter Rabbit glass. Entering the kitchen, I’d open the freezer and pluck out the tupperware popsicle container, milky-white with cherry-red sticks. Jazaya, our cook would run it under warm water and slowly the kulfi popsicle would emerge.

The cream melting and oozing down the side, each bite was full of toffee-like flavours and the crunch of almonds and pistachios…

And the fragrance of musky cardamom…

Serve these with a dusting of shattered jade-green pistachios…

Serves 10-12 if using shotglasses.

Ingredients:
You will need a heavy-bottom pan to prepare this, otherwise the cream and sugar will stick to the base of the pan and burn. I use a 6-qt stockpot like this one.
*50 g (slightly less than 1/2 cup) almonds, skins removed; unsalted
*50 g (slightly less than 1/2 cup) pistachios, shelled; unsalted
*1 litre half-and-half (half whole milk; half whole cream)
*1 tsp cardamom powder
*8-10 green cardamom pods
*300 ml condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

Preparation:
*Grind almonds and pistachios in a blender (not a food processor) by pulsing a few times. At the base- where the blade is- some of the nuts will turn to a flour (powder). This will help thicken the kulfi.
*Remove cardamom seeds from their pods. Discard pods and crush seeds till they resemble freshly cracked black pepper. Set aside.
*Place pan on medium heat on the stove. Pour in half-and-half.
*Separately mix cardamom powder with a tablespoon of the half and half and pour into pot.
*Add almonds, pistachios and crushed cardamom seeds.
*As the temperature of the half-and-half rises, start to slowly add condensed milk. You will have to do this by a taste test. I find the optimal amount is 200 ml.
*Once the mixture starts to steam and bubble, turn the heat to low.
*A skin will form on top, just keep stirring it in. You will continue to stir for one hour every five minutes till the mixture thickens and reduces by half.
*Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
*Pour slowly into popsicle moulds or shotglasses.
*Place moulds/glasses in freezer.
*At the 30 minute mark when the kulfi has started to form, place popsicle sticks in each mould/glass.
*Freeze overnight or for at least 8 hours.
*To unmould, dip quickly in warm water.
*Serve with a scattering of pistachios and almonds.

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