"When he sings, it makes me melt like a popsicle on the fourth of July." - Darla in The Little Rascals
This past holiday weekend was ideal for making and enjoying homemade popsicles. And while the options for popsicle recipes are endless, I always gravitate towards this family favorite: kulfi. I have seen my Mom make this easy, modern version of the frozen, dense Indian dessert my whole life. In fact, I had just assumed that was how kulfi must be made without actually knowing the ancient and fascinating process to make authentic kulfi. While making the simplified version (recipe below) this weekend, she described the traditional (and quite tedious) kulfi-making process which made me even more grateful for how delicious the modern version is. The popular Indian street food when prepared traditionally requires slow cooking sweet and evaporated milk for several hours until it is reduced almost in half and gains a very distinct caramelized flavor. Then the mixture is put into tight, enclosed molds that are submerged into an ice-salt mixture in an insulated, earthen pot (matka) and slow frozen. And since this method pre-dates modern freezers, this is all done without a freezer, people. While most street vendors in India these days sell mass-produced kulfis, you can still spot some vendors carrying the earthen pots selling the frozen treats made in that method that dates all the way back to the 16th century.
Easy Kulfi popsicles (Makes about 16 popsicles depending on your mold size)
15 oz. (about 2 cups) ricotta cheese
120z. can evaporated milk
14 oz. condensed milk
Handful of crushed pistachios
(Optional) splash of kewra water or rose water
1. Blend ricotta cheese, evaporated milk, condensed milk until smooth.
2. Add crushed pistachios and a splash of kewra or rose water (if desired). Stir.
3. Pour into molds (I used these vintage style popsicle molds) and freeze for at least 8 hours in your freezer or matka;)
If you want to be more authentic, instead of stirring in the pistachios, you can just add them to the bottom (or top) of each mold, before/after pouring the mixture. There are also tons of variations including garnishing with ground cardamom or saffron. Another traditional way to serve kulfi is in a bowl topped with boiled vermicelli (falooda) and rose syrup.
image source: SD and my Dad