So, a dish more than an ingredient I concur, but still fairly unusual nonetheless.
Kulfi is an Indian Ice Cream, quite unlike European or American Ice Creams in that it doesn’t resemble sorbet, it isn’t custard based and it doesn’t contain cream. It resembles the Italian Gelato, and the methods of preparation are similar, boiling milk to reduce it, adding sugar and then flavourings.
What this produces is an ice cream that is very dense because very little air is incorporated into it. The flavour is richly scented with Cardomom and either ground pistachios (which turns the ice cream a delicate pale green colour) or mango (which turns the ice cream a big, bold buttercup yellow shade).
I first encountered Kulfi when we ordered an Indian Takeaway. I adore Indian sweets, they’re intense, brain-numbing sweetness is highly seductive to me, so I thought I’d give the Ice Cream a try. I ordered Pistachio, I enjoy green ice cream. No other justification.
After we ate our main meal, we certainly couldn’t manage the ice cream so we left it in the freezer for a couple of days until I remembered it was there. I triumphantly pulled it out from the freezer and turned out the little green pyramids into bowls. I sprinkled them with some slithered almonds and allowed them to warm up ever so slightly. The first mouthful: a beautifully aromatic ice cream, it has a slightly grainy texture which I assume comes from the ground nuts and then that unusual pistachio flavour begins to tingle your tastebuds. The ice cream melts in your mouth like frozen milk. It is not heavy or overly creamy like English Ice Cream. It is simply heavenly.
This weekend I have bought – and this is the antithesis of everything that I usually stand for but pistachios are very expensive to buy – a packet mix of Kulfi (from Spices of India). Just add milk and freeze. I don’t have the proper moulds so I’m not sure what I’ll use yet: I do have an old fashioned copper jelly mould shaped like a fish that my grandmother donated to me. Perhaps I’ll use that....