The first time I tasted kulfi, I thought I died and went to heaven. After a rich and spicy Indian meal, it cleansed my palate, delivered just the right amount of sweetness, and creaminess. What I loved was that every bite was infused with a lovely cardamom and pistachio flavors, and yet I couldn’t see any evidence of either one. There was also delicate notes of saffron.
Think of Kulfi as India’s version of a rich Italian gelato! It isn’t whipped or churned so it denser, creamier, and doesn’t melt as fast ice cream. This rich ice cream is usually made with evaporated milk that has been slowly boiled down with some heavy cream. Some people even use sweetened condensed milk for a quicker result, so the conventional recipe isn’t exactly low fat!
When we stopped eating dairy products we were no longer able to order this incredible ice cream we had to learn to make it from scratch. The great thing about kulfi is that you only want to eat a few tablespoons because it is so satisfying and filling. So the question is can a dairy-free version be as good as the original one? After a number of tries, I can say yes!
It is said to have originated in the Mughal Empire of India around the 16th century. Kulfi has since become a favorite of Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. In case you were wondering, the word kulfi means covered cup in Persian.
Health Benefits of Cardamom
Cardamom in all its forms (pods, seeds or powder) has many health benefits.
It is a great digestive booster and the reason why it is found in the popular masala chai tea that accompanies most Indian meals!
Cardamom is high in potassium which a natural vasodilator. In plain English, it reduces inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels so it is good for the heart.
It is rich in phytochemicals that deliver anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
It is also known to help with weight loss because of its appetite suppressant property.
Ways to consume cardamom
Besides being included in curries, you can drink cardamom water daily to help balance blood sugar levels.
You can also simply chew on a few pods before and/or after a meal to improve digestion.
Sprinkle cardamom powder in your tea, coffee, etc.
Incorporate cardamom powder to cakes, pancakes, custards, etc.
In addition to cardamom and pistachios, you could also incorporate mango puree, and some rose water for a beautiful orange hue and subtle rose flavor. You have the basic recipe but have fun trying other fruit like orange or passion fruit.
Dairy-Free Kulfi Ice Cream
- Ice cream mould or popsicle.
- Coffee grinder
- 3 cups soy, cashew or almond mild
- 1/2 cup sugar (raw, turbinago, etc.)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
- 1 cup coconut cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped pistachio
- 1 Tbsp cardamom powder
- 1 pinch saffron (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped pistachio
- Simmer 2 cups of non-dairy milk (like cashew), the pinch of saffron with 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy bottom pan for a few minutes
- Stir 2 Tbsp of starch (cornstarch or arrowroot) with 1 cup of cashew milk.
- Slowly stir the starch slurry, and continue simmering and stirring until it starts to thicken.
- Set aside and allow to cool down.
- Fill your ice cream mould or popsicle holder with the cooled ice cream. Cover with some plastic or foil and insert a popsicle stick.
- Freeze 8-10 hours.
- Run the ice cream mould under hot water to easily extract the cone.
- Roll the ice cream in the finely chopped pistachios.
You can also add 1 Tbsp of rose water which goes so well with cardamom.