Kulfi is a creamy, dense, and rich frozen dessert rightly called as the traditional Indian ice cream. For my kesar pista kulfi recipe, you need only 6 ingredients – milk, cardamom, saffron, sugar, pistachio, and mawa (evaporated milk). The addition of ground pistachio and rose petals make this kulfi recipe truly exquisite.
Kulfi is a popular dessert across Northern India. It is believed to be originated during the Mughal era in the 16th century. There are certain entries about Kulfi in the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s Ain-i-Akbari.
Since then Kulfi never failed to charm the taste buds of the food lovers in India.
The word ‘kesar’ in Hindi means saffron, and ‘pista’ is the short name for pistachio. Hence, the saffron and pistachio flavored kulfi got its name – kesar pista kulfi.
It is traditionally made by slow cooking the milk until it reduces to at least half, resulting in a rich and sweet condensed/caramelized goodness. Kulfi, prepared via slow cooking the milk, also renders a unique smooth mouthfeel that is devoid of ice crystals.
The distinctive feature of the Kulfi is its conical shape. There are special molds available for freezing and shaping kulfi.
Sugar, green cardamom, saffron, rose petals or dried fruit are the common ingredients added to Kulfi.
Kulfi is one of those few good things about the scorching Indian summer that cheer up the sweating and sweltering souls.
My early memories of Kulfi are that of an exclusive dessert that will make a well-ordered appearance post-dinner during the summer vacations, rarely homemade.
Milk – Full Cream or full-fat milk is best for this kulfi recipe. Avoid using toned or skimmed milk.
Sugar – The granulated white sugar is what I add to my kulfi mixture. Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste preference.
Saffron (Kesar) – For this kesar pista kulfi recipe saffron is an essential ingredient. It gives the kulfi a beautiful yellow color and a rich taste.
Pistachio – The ground unsalted pistachio is the secret ingredient that makes my kulfi recipe so successful.
Mawa (Khoya) – To thicken the milk and give it a creamy texture we add mawa/khoya/evaporated milk in this kulfi recipe. Use unsweetened khova to make kulfi.
Green Cardamom – It gives kulfi a sweet aroma and a slightly spicy taste. I prefer using green cardamom powder.
You can experiment with the taste of the kulfi by adding a few of these additional ingredients:
- dried rose petals
- sweet mango puree for making mango kulfi
- melted semi-sweet dark chocolate
- any kind of sweet berry or fruit puree
- betel or paan leaves for making paan kulfi
Useful Tips To Make Creamy Kulfi
Always use full-fat or full cream milk for making kulfi or any other Indian dessert.
Allow the milk to simmer over low heat, stir at regular intervals. This slow cooking process turns milk into thick, creamy, caramelized goodness. Like we did for this baked shahi tukra.
Add cardamom powder while slow cooking the milk and not towards the end.
Add crumbled mawa (khoya), sugar, and pistachio powder only when milk is reduced to half. Adding these ingredients, in the beginning, will never allow milk to thicken.
Before freezing allow the kulfi mixture to cool down completely at room temperature.
Please note once frozen the sweetness of the desserts is reduced a notch. Hence, after cooling the kulfi mixture, taste it and if required add more sugar.
While unmoulding the kulfi, dip the molds in room temperature water for 10 – 20 seconds to easily remove the kulfi.
FAQ’s Related To Kesar Pista Kulfi Recipe
How is kulfi different from ice cream?
Kulfi tastes similar to ice cream, but it is denser, creamier, and does not melt as easily as ice cream. Ice creams are made by whipping heavy cream whereas a Kulfi is made by condensing milk.
What are the Kulfi flavor variations?
The traditional and most popular Kulfi flavors are Kesar Pista, Rose, and Mango. Kulfis are now enjoyed in new exotic flavors like Paan, Gulkand, Strawberry, Roasted Almond and many more.
What could be the substitutes of khoya (mawa) in a kulfi?
If you wish to skip adding Khoya (mawa), you can add condensed milk (milkmaid) to thicken the milk. Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste because the store-bought condensed milk is highly sweet in taste.
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Kesar Pista Kulfi Recipe
- 1 litre full fat milk
- 200 gram khova/khoya/mawa (evaporated milk)
- 1/2 Cup granulated white sugar or to taste
- 1/4 Cup unsalted pistachio
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom powder (elaichi powder)
- 1 teaspoon saffron (kesar)
- To make Kulfi, first in a blender grind pistachio to a coarse powder. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Soak saffron strands in a tablespoon of milk. Set it aside. In a separate bowl using your fingers crumble the khoya (mawa) or grate it.
- Now in a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat milk over low heat. Add cardamom powder, keep on stirring the milk occasionally. Let it simmer over low heat till it reduces to half the original quantity and thick in texture.
- Once milk thickens, add grated khoya, sugar, soaked saffron, and pistachio powder. Stir to mix nicely. Simmer the milk till sugar and khoya are nicely dissolved in the milk. Taste and add more sugar if required. Turn off the heat.
- Let the kulfi mixture cool down to room temperature.
- Pour the liquid into the Kulfi molds or in an airtight stainless steel or glass box with a tight fitting lid. Set Kulfi in the freezer for 6 – 8 hours or best overnight.
- Kulfi molds come with lids. So if you want to insert an ice cream stick in the kulfi, do not put the lid. Cover the top of the mold with an aluminum foil and insert a skewer or ice cream stick poking a hole in the aluminum foil.
- To serve or to unmould the Kulfi, allow the kulfi molds to remain at room temperature for a few seconds or rub them between your palms for a few seconds. Then unmold the kulfi or pull out using the ice cream stick inserted.
- Serve kesar pista kulfi chilled.
- Always use full-fat or full cream milk for making kulfi.
- Add cardamom powder while slow cooking the milk and not towards the end.
- Add crumbled mawa (khoya), sugar, and pistachio powder only when milk is reduced to half.
- Before freezing allow the kulfi mixture to cool down completely at room temperature.
- Please note once frozen the sweetness of the desserts is reduced a notch. Hence, after cooling the kulfi mixture, taste it and if required add more sugar.
- While unmoulding the kulfi, dip the molds in room temperature water for 10 – 20 seconds to easily remove the kulfi.
- Kulfi can be served on a stick like other popsicles or in scoops like ice cream.