Saturday, January 26

Happy '08 + Kulfi

I figured I better get a post in before the end of January so that I can still say Happy New Year to you all without feeling too embarassed:

Happy 2008 to all my readers! May your year be filled with delicious food experiences, stimulating conversations and exciting adventures - do something crazy and unexpected this year!

Now after the uncomfortable-ness of those first few lines (sorry I've been away!), I bring you the kulfi recipe that I promised a few months ago.

Kulfi is an Indian frozen dessert that isn't quite like ice cream. Ice cream is typically churned to inject air and produce a creamy texture. Kulfi is made with flavoured boiled milk that reduces and thickens naturally. The milk is cooled and frozen, resulting in quite a dense texture.

I don't have time or patience for that. Sitting there for hours waiting for the milk to boil and reduce, all the while watching that it doesn't scorch the bottom of the pan? Come on. There's no way. And once you burn the milk, you'll never overcome that burnt taste. That batch is going to have to be dumped. Not to mention that your kitchen will smell like burnt milk for hours. Gross.

It's much easier to use my method adapted from here. Here's the secret ingredient. Can you guess what it is without scrolling down? :)

Yup, cubed white bread.

This adds in some of that denseness without having to stand over the stove boiling the milk for hours.

My adaptations grew in a large part from my desire to have kulfi whenever I wanted. So, I've multiplied the original recipe by approximately 2.5.

As such, we have now re-christened the frozen orange juice drawer in our freezer as the kulfi drawer.

"Where's the frozen spinach?" husband asks.

"In the kulfi drawer," I reply.

Here's the final product. Hey, it's hard to take photos of frozen things!

adapted from Mercedes at Desert Candy
  • 3 cups whole milk (use the rest of the carton to make your own paneer or ricotta cheese!)
  • 2 cans evaporated milk, 370mL each
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 300mL each
  • 8 slices white bread, crusts removed (use the rest to make stuffing!)
  • 3 tsp cardamom seeds, slightly crushed
  • 10-20 cardamom pods (I love cardamom, so I add lots!)
  • 3 inch-long cinnamon sticks
  • pinch saffron strands (optional)
  • pinch salt
  • 4 tbsp finely ground pistachios, plus more chopped pistachios for serving

1. If you have saffron, sprinkle it into 1 cup of the whole milk and let it sit while you ready the other ingredients.

2. Combine rest of milks, cardamom seeds, salt, 4 tbsp pistachios in a large pot. Use an herb ball or tea ball to hold the cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. If you don't have such a contraption, just add these in loose but make sure you've written down how many pods and sticks you have to fish out before blending.

3. Add in saffron-infused milk. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring and being careful to not burn the milk.

4. Fish out the herb ball or loose cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. Cube white bread and add it in. Let sit for 5 minutes while the bread gets heavy with the milk mixture. It should look lumpy like this.

5. Time for the power tools. Transfer to a blender, and blend, baby, blend! Note: with my quantities, I do this in two batches.

6. Ladle carefully into any molds you can find in your house. We use espresso cups, various ramekin sizes, small tea cups, and shot glasses. I figure that using a variety of sizes allows me to choose the amount of decadence I want. Although, inevitably, the larger containers go first, then we're left with the measly shot glasses. The photo below shows the quantity that this recipe makes, plus another 7 kulfi "popsicles" that I'd already put into the freezer.

7. Let cool, then transfer to a freezer drawer (or set on a tray), covered with plastic wrap. The smaller containers will be ready in 4 hours and the larger ones will be ready the next day.

8. When ready to eat, either sprinkle with chopped pistachios and eat out of the mold, or loosen the kulfi with a hot water bath and invert onto a plate, then garnish.

Note: kulfi will be very hard right out of the freezer. I usually set it out to soften for 10-15 minutes before serving. That way, my spoons don't get all bent up!

C'mon, take a bite!