The indian version of popsicle aka “kulfi “ sums up taste of home for me.The exotic flavors of saffron & rosewater and the luscious taste of mango combined with hints of cardamom powder takes me straight to those hot, humid days in Delhi when waiting for the kulfiwala [vendor] was our favorite way to kill summer vacations.The guy in question was fat & bald , always-smiling, middle-aged man with a hand driven cart who used to throng our colony in the afternoons to sell his creamy kesar kulfi.Here there were no fancy trucks adorned with cartoon characters and replete with freezers or shiny counters, just a hand painted wooden frame open on all sides sitting atop a cart,driven by the push of the hand and a ringing bell [which doubled up both as horn on the road & a signal to customers].There were numerous stacked wooden boxes lined with sacks and filled with crushed salted ice and lots of slotted cases to hold the kulfis- a summer vacation special for us. Priced at 1-2 rupees a piece, it was a priceless treat of the day especially because you mustered the courage to wake up mom from her afternoon siesta and got money after pestering her life out :) Though there were more sophisticated options to beat the Delhi heat— drinking lemonades or juices, mango shakes,cold coffee, coconut water etc.But sucking on kulfi was, perhaps, most effective in coping with the miserable months of May and June, the fact that it was fun food on the stick, dirt cheap so you can eat as many as you want and its was enjoyed among a gang of chattering friends.I m not sure if the ingredients were authentic, some folks said that blotting paper or bread made its way into the kulfi to thicken it but the taste was superlative.No doubts about that! In my opinion as with most foods, the best kulfi is available in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale.The taste remained the same for the 15 years that I had kulfi there at least once during summers.They have unbeatable number of flavors and a price to suit every pocket.They are not to be missed if you happen to visit Delhi during summers! Kulfi is nothing but a frozen,unchurned milk based dessert in numerous flavors like cream [malai] pistachios,rose, cardamom and saffron.Frankly,I have personally not seen any kulfiwala selling mango kulfi during childhood days.Maybe it evolved later & caught on to the taste buds.Traditionally, Delhi style kulfi is served with gulab falooda which is nothing but rose flavored sweet vermicelli served chilled.Slurping the falooda along with bites of kulfi is bliss – pure bliss!
- In a heavy bottomed,wide-mouthed & large pot, pour the half and half and transfer to stove top on medium and let come to a boil.
- While the milk is boiling,peel the mangoes, slice the flesh roughly into a bowl & discard the seed.Tip the slices into the blender and churn to make a smooth puree.Sieve the puree once to remove all the lumps and fibre.Keep a watch on the milk.
- Once the milk is boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the milk simmer with periodic stirring till it reduces by 1/3 of its original volume. Note :If using half and half this reduction time would be 25-30 minutes.If using whole milk about 55-60 minutes and if using evaporated milk just 15-20 minutes.The only reason I did not use evaporated milk was because the brownish color of the milk would kill the yellow color from saffron & mango.
- Once the milk has reduced,remove from heat add the sugar and let cool to a room temperature.
- Once the milk has cooled,mix in the cream,saffron dissolved in milk,mango puree,salt and green cardamom powder.Whisk gently to combine well to make kulfi mix.
- Pour the kulfi mix into moulds/popsicle shells/plastic containers, cover and freeze for at least 10-12 hours until set. Frozen kulfi keeps for a month.
- Unmould and serve chilled along with falooda [ recipe below]