Indian Ice Cream
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Indian Ice-Cream

Indian Ice-Cream Called Kulfi

It was in 1976 that I was first introduced to Madhur Jaffrey – and I loved her from the start. An Indian from India, she had recently had her first cookbook published, and I had the good fortune to get it to review. Needless to say, this amazing author and Indian chef got a rave review from me.

To get this into perspective, I was living in Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, which has become a natural home for Indians since they were shipped there as indentured labourers long ago. They’ve been there as long as the British and the Dutch, who make up the cast of colonists in our country. But this isn’t a history lesson.

With Madhur Jaffrey’s hardcover book in hand – at that time with it’s curry-coloured dust-jacket still intact – I not only gave it a rave review, but proceeded to try recipe after recipe, night after night … usually long into the night. My partner (who later married me for my sins – or perhaps it was my MJ cooking skills) seldom got to eat before midnight. We ate well.

I quickly had kheema and korma nailed, and I could turn out a range of her recipes with aplomb. I don’t follow the recipes any longer, but cook adapted versions all the time – and always acknowledge (at least in my head) where they originally came from. I also only ever cook long-grain rice her way.

Then I decided to try making Indian ice-cream, better known as kulfi. It was good, really good; but I won’t ever do it again, never ever. The process even put me off making regular ice-cream forever. This is sad, but true.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Kulfi

Madhur Jaffrey’s recipes are simple and easy to follow. The secret is (as with any recipe) to read them from start to finish before you commit to them. That is a failure I admit to. I scan – get excited – get everything assembled – start cooking – and then I discover I need another few hours before I am going to be able to complete the meal. It happens all the time, but never as badly as when I decided to make Indian ice cream all those years ago!

What you have to do is boil 2.5 pints – about 1.5 litres – of milk in heavy-bottomed pot on low heat. It’s likely to take at least an hour-and-a-half, and after the first hour you need to add two lightly crushed cardamom pods to the milk. The aim is to get the milk to around 450 ml or 16 fluid oz. When it’s boiled away this much, remove the cardamom pods and throw them away. Add three tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of lovely green, slivered pistachio nuts, along with the seeds from the other cardamom pods that you should grind first. Then leave the milk to cool.

Not too difficult.

Once the mixture is cool, all you have to do is stir and put into a bowl; cover and freeze.

That’s as far as I read. And by this stage it was already 1 am.

For kulfi to become ice cream proper, you need to continue to stir it every 20 to 30 minutes to help the crystals break up as it freezes.

By around 4 am it still hadn’t frozen and I was exhausted.

MJ’s bottom line is to wait until it gets too thick to stir, and then to leave it until it freezes solid (covered).

My Bottom Line

It wasn’t bad, but I’m sure it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I was too tired to make sure it had frozen solid.

Moral of the Kulfi Story

If you’re going to use a recipe, read until the end.

I still haven’t learnt to do this.

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