Kulfi is a milk based frozen desert of Indian origin that is similar to ice cream, only a little denser and richer. It often comes in gorgeous exotic flavours including mango, rose, saffron and cardamom. I have been fortunate enough to sample traditional kulfi a couple of times and always loved its rich creaminess and exciting flavours.
Indian rice pudding (I don’t know the proper name) is another one of my favourites. Often served cold, flavoured with cardamom and topped with slivers of pistachios. Last weekend I was trying to think of new ice cream flavours and decided to see what would happen if I used rice pudding as my base along with saffron, cardamom and a few chopped pistachios to create a kufli inspired ice cream.
I’m not ashamed (too much) to admit that I used a canned rice pudding. You could of course make your own but this would have taken more time than I had allocated myself and so I cheated/improvised. To get the best flavour and colour out of the saffron I steeped it first in a little warm milk. This created a lovely sunny yellow colour which gave the ice cream a rich creamy golden hue and helped the flavour develop.
The chopped pistachios added little nuggets of buttery texture along with their pretty green colour. They stayed quite soft in the ice cream, not going too hard or brittle which was nice. Cardamom is one of my favourite, yet often underused spices. It’s so distinctive and aromatic and worked brilliantly with all the other flavours.
Once churned all the flavours were apparent, with the earthy complex saffron and cardamom being most prominent. I loved how you could still clearly see the streaks of golden saffron scattered throughout. Saffron is quite distinctive (and expensive) so a little goes a long way.
The rice pudding itself got a little pulverised during churning, lending a thicker, creamier texture to the finished ice cream, but not quite as much ‘rice texture’ as I’d originally hoped.
I adored the finished ice cream, it was so different to anything else I’ve had before while having definite Kulfi overtones. It was quite rich and aromatic so small single serve scoopfuls were enough to satisfy the taste buds. It’s probably not at all authentic and I apologise to anyone who is horrified at my ice cream creation, but it tasted delicious to me.
2 x 400g tins rice pudding
½ tsp ground cardamom
50g shelled pistachio nuts
40g caster sugar
Pinch saffron strands
Place the saffron strands in a small bowl and pour over the milk. Place in the microwave and heat on defrost for 30-60 seconds until the milk is just warm. Stir and leave the saffron to steep in the milk for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the rice pudding into a bowl and stir in the cardamom and sugar.
Roughly chop the pistachios and add to the rice mix along with the saffron milk, including the strands of saffron, which will be a vibrant sunny yellow colour.
Stir to combine and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes before churning in an ice cream maker until thick. Alternatively, transfer it into a large container and place in the freezer; stir the mix every hour until set.
When thick and almost frozen, serve at once or freeze until required.