If Kulfi Isn’t Already in Your Frozen Summer Treat Rotation, It Should Be

With less air than ice cream, this velvety Indian dessert offers rich, indulgent goodness in every bite.

April 25, 2023

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Photo by: subodhsathe/Getty Images

subodhsathe/Getty Images

You may scream only for ice cream, but perhaps that’s because you haven’t tried kulfi yet. The popular frozen Indian dessert, made from slow-simmering milk and incorporating fragrant spices like cardamom and saffron, is dense and decadent. And, it isn’t hard to find in the states, or better yet, prepare from scratch at home.

Often referred to as Indian ice cream, kulfi dates back to the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. Its name is derived from the Persian word qulfi, meaning “covered cup.” Historically poured into cylinder-shaped molds, resulting in a long frozen pop when set, kulfi is perfect parts ice-cream and ice pop. The dessert has been presented in a number of ways since, including plopped in a bowl or atop a cone. It remains a staple in Indian and Indian American homes, especially during festive occasions like weddings, Diwali and Holi.

Most commonly, kulfi varieties include flavors like malai, pistachio and mango, but modern takes on the historic dessert reveal countless ways to prepare it using different fruits, nuts and mix-ins.

The summer months offer plenty of opportunities to indulge in sweet frozen treats. Add kulfi to your rotation, whether you make it yourself and keep it in your home freezer, visit a lauded kulfi shop, or buy a pre-packaged pint. If not from your own kitchen, here’s where to get your fix:

Kwality Ice Cream: This famed frozen dessert shop, co-founded by food scientist Dr. Kanti Parekh, specializes in made-from-scratch kulfi and other Indian desserts. With parlors around the country, including in New York, Virginia, Colorado, Texas and California, it has never been easier to taste – or stock up on – your favorite flavors. And at Kwality Ice Cream, there are more than 50 to choose from, available by the scoop or to take away by the pint, the half-gallon, or 2.5-gallon tubs. For a truly epic dessert moment, try the kulfi falooda drink – a rose petal milkshake, rich with rice noodles, basil seeds and topped with scoops of malai kulfi.

Heritage Kulfi: This premium kulfi brand founded by native New Yorker Mansoor Ahmed is available by the pint in Indian grocers, specialty markets and larger retail chains in the Northeast. The company prides itself on making kulfi using all-natural, non-GMO ingredients, and without eggs. The result is a gluten-free, thick, concentrated concoction that comes in a robust selection of flavors like saffron, earl grey, rose water, vanilla bean and coconut.

Kaurina’s: This Dallas-based dessert company uses generational family recipes to produce its all-natural, preservative- and egg-free kulfi bars. Since launching more than 20 years ago, the brand has landed in Whole Foods Market, Central Market and Costco stores across the country. The bars, which feature a variety of flavors conveniently presented on a stick, are mimicked after the traditional style. Stick to a classic with pistachio almond or mango kulfi bars, or try a modern take with the luscious strawberry or rich chocolate flavors.

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