It is hot in Johannesburg. Not sticky, humid hot like India or New York in August. But still hot enough that you don’t feel like turning on the stove. Perfect weather for kulfi (or in Gujarati: gulfi).
My brother and I once spent a few weeks in dreaded August traveling through the deserts of Rajasthan in India. Given the heat, there were people selling matki kulfis—kulfis kept ice cold within these big handmade earthen pots called matkis (again in Gujarati called matlas). I think on that trip we stopped to get these matki kulfis every time we saw someone selling them, which was at least three times a day. You would get this burst of lovely cold air as the vendor opened the matki to grab the kulfi. It was like standing in front of the freezer with the door open on a hot humid day. We would walk around eating our kulfis off of the stick and for that brief period before they melted or were eaten, I felt cool.
Kulfis are one of those things that are also often on menus of Indian restaurants. For anyone who hasn’t had them they are somewhere between ice cream and a popsicle. And most importantly, they are relatively easy to make. Ideally, kulfis should be on popsicle sticks, but I didn’t have popsicle molds and couldn’t find ones that I liked at my local store in Johannesburg. So instead, I rummaged through my cabinets and found unused steel circular cups from a new Indian spice box which I haven’t yet filled. You can also use a muffin/cupcake pan, but my freezer is too small (and too full) to fit my my whole cupcake pan so I went with the unused spice box cups.
There are only two basic ingredients: a variety of milk products (milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk) and cardamom. I crushed my cardamom in a mortar and pestle. You boil all the ingredients together, pour the mixture into the molds, put it in the freezer and voila the next day you have kulfi. Perfect.
I had a chocolate craving the day I made these, so after pouring half of the liquid into the molds, I put the remaining liquid back onto the stove, dropped in 1 tablespoon of really nice cocoa powder and made chocolate kulfi. I really liked the chocolate ones, but I took them over to a friend’s who proclaimed the chocolate not to be as tasty as the original. Try both and you decide which you prefer: chocolate or traditional.
2 c whole milk
¼ c condensed milk
½ c milk powder
¼ t powdered cardamom
Pour all of the ingredients into a non-stick pan. Put on high heat until it boils. Turn down heat and let simmer until the mixture has thickened.
Variations: You can add 2 T of cocoa powder to the recipe above for chocolate kulfi. I added 1 T of cocoa powder after pouring half of the mixture into molds.
You can also add vanilla extract or vanilla beans instead of cardamom.