Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Almond Pista Kulfi

I do not know about now but till a decade and a half ago, if you had spent any amount of time in Coimbatore called Manchester of South India, located in the Western part of Tamil Nadu and bordering the state of Kerala and blessed with a pleasant climate, you had not gone without a visit to the chain of hotels (we'd call them restaurants here) called Annapoorna and GowriShankar. I spent a considerable amount of time in this city while in school, college and as a fresh graduate with a job on hand.

Compared to some of the hostel and boarding food our college hostel food was not all that bad, even then eating it every single day was a chore. This meant every chance we got we visited the above mentioned hotel. Those days a Rs. 10 (today's rate $1 == Rs.47) bought us 2 masala dosais, 2 vadais and sometimes 2 kulfis as well. Oh! by the way did you hear know about the new Rupee symbol?

freshly churned

Everyone who was staying back in the hostel for the weekend was ready for an outing by Sunday afternoon. But for movies and restaurant there was not much in those days. Anyway if you are at the restaurant during tea time generally between 2-5PM you were in for a special treat of peas masala roast and cauliflower roast. Only available in certain branches, for those familiar with Coimbatore and curious to know it was the Lakshmi Complex Annapoora. These two generally ran out much quicker than the other dosai items should perhaps speak for their popularity.

I am digressing, not. Dosai is not the star of this post but kulfi. Coming to kulfi, Annapoorna in those days served kulfi in small earthenware pots, creamy and meltingly delicious. One pot was just not enough. Back then fat, calories and pounds were the last things on our mind but pocket money was front and center.

Talking of the restaurant another incident comes to mind, this one more recently. Last year on our last visit home we happened to stop by the same restaurant at the location mentioned above. Lunch time not surprisingly was crowded with everyone jostling and fighting for tables to become available. We found one and DD2,DD, their cousin and me sat down while my mom and aunt went to wash their hands. DD2 was playing with the two one rupee coins she had in her hands, the waiter who was cleaning the table in the process also cleaned out her hands. DD2 started crying and quickly figuring out what had happened I asked the waiter who promptly and a little sheepishly returned the coins. My mom and aunt came back just as he was handing over the coins and were not particularly impressed and said we could have given her 2 other coins and also mentioned that perhaps he was under the impression that the previous occupants of the table had left the tip. After a few minutes I realized what they said would have been the better course of action. Why? Not justifying what the waiter did but he does not particularly make a whole load of money and the loss that would not have hurt us in any way. What bothered me most was if the isolating lifestyle in the US had dulled me to the more finer, subtler sensibilities of life.

Dear readers, What would you have done in such a situation?

As for the kulfi recipe, there are as many recipes as there are kulfi makers, which by Indian standards is quite a lot. Here goes my version of the recipe to add to the ever growing numbers.

with some fresh figs

In making this recipe I realized one more important truth! about the difference in Indian and American ice creams. American ice creams are generally heavy and very fatty whereas Indian ice creams genreally are lighter and not as fatty. The reason IMHO, lies in the way the ice creams are made. The creaminess for the American ice cream comes from its name sake- heavy cream, whereas the Indian ice cream gets its creaminess from reducing milk by heating it for an extended period of time. The thickened milk does not allow for crystals to form also another reason why there is no need to churn so much.

I have an ice cream maker so I ended up churning it but that is non-requirement as far as kulfi is concerned.

Almond Pistachio Kulfi
1. 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2. 2 cups of whole milk + 1 tbsp (for mixing the custard powder)
3. 1 heaped tbsp of custard powder or corn starch (I used custard powder)
4. 1/4 cup of sugar or even less (combine the condensed milk and whole milk, taste and add sugar if required)
5. 1 cup of roasted pistachios and almonds
6. 1 tsp cardamom seeds powdered

1. In a heavy bottomed pan combine the condensed milk and whole milk. Give it a taste if more sweet is required add sugar. Remember you are reducing the milk, so it tends to get sweeter and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to below medium and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes.
2. Mix the custard powder in cold milk, whisk to combine and add it to the boiling milk, stirring as you are adding it
3. Let it boil for 10 more minutes ot till the milk is solid enough to coat the sides of the spoon. Turn of the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Keep stirring occasionally to avoid a film forming on the surface
4. Powder the nuts to grainy consistency and NOT to a fine powder and mix them into the thickened milk after it has cooled.
5.Churn them in a ice cream maker for 30 minutes (a purely optional step) and then let them ripen in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
For those not using the ice cream maker, just freeze the mixture in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more till it sets. Mixing it in every few hours is optional. If you were using moulds this would not be possible so it is purely upto you

Creamy delicious kulfi is ready to be served

I am sitting out American ice creams for a while. Kulfis offer a wide range and Fresh mango kulfis have to be tried before the season runs out.


  1. yummy kulfi,looks soooo tempting n inviting..i was planning to make kulfi recently ,this looks perfect for me ...thanks for sharing this
    u got a lovely space here ..if u get time do visit my blog


  2. This looks amazing!!

    So if you don't have an ice cream maker, how would you finish this? Would you just put the mixture into a freezer-safe container and put in the freezer overnight, no needing to mix part way through?

    I'd really like to try that - I don't have an ice cream maker.

  3. The coins did not belong rightfully to him ... so should not have gone to him. Besides what impression such things leave on the child's mind is also imp.
    The kulfi looks fab ... but right now am craving dosa. :p

  4. Your kulfi recipe sounds very do-able. Will keep in mind! Thanks for sharing, Indo.

    Regarding the waiter thing.. living in the US has nothing to do with the incident. Could happen even if you lived in India. Sometimes one does things without much thought. Depends on how preoccupied you were, your mood at the time, maybe you were hungry. In general anyway it was out of place for the chap to grab it from a kid. Whatever. When your family suggested the alternative, see how quickly you agreed with their suggestion.. Nothing has changed in your fundamental mindset. I would just put the incident aside as an off-moment. No big deal.

  5. Can't forget Annapoorna's delicacies Indo...especially the two large idlis swimming in a pool of excellent sambar. Thats my alltime favorit. I think the siruvaani water does all wonders...Kulpi is an allltime favorite and topped with fig those little cups are inviting me. mmm...I would have given another set of coins to the kid and leave the incidenet unnoticed...But would have resulted in a short lecture for the kids.

  6. Very inviting kulfi,love both almonds and pistas in kulfis..

  7. Here we all love kulfi and this looks absloutley so so good. I must make once this before the sunny weather is gone. You are really making use of your ice cream machine. In a way a better buy than the KA hubby bought for you.

  8. What a beautiful kulfi!

    In your situation, I would have instinctively done the exact same thing as you. But I think your mom and aunt are perfectly correct, people do leave measly tips in the amount of rupee coins (and tell me what that buys in India any more) so the waiter was totally correct in thinking this was his tip from the previous occupants of the table. Perhaps you left him a big tip in the end so all's well that ends well? :)

  9. Satya, you have a fine blog and thanks for stopping by.

    blepharisma, just updated the post with the non ice cream maker step.
    Yes just freeze the mixture till it sets. Breaking it occasionally is purely upto you but not required.

    Sharmila, no time is wrong time to crave dosais.

    HC, yes the ice cream is being used to the fullest, glad the KA was returned.

  10. SS not completely I think we do tend to forget how the rest of the world is living because here it is all so well hidden.

    Nirmala, yes in every situation we bring our life experiences along. Here honesty is viewed above all else. In India everything is nuanced so we make right wrong decisions all the time.

    Nupur, the chap was embarrased I bet, he was no where to be found after the incident. I am not sure I would have tipped him more because of it though. He did a wrong deed after all. How I reacted to the situtaion was what bothered me most.

  11. Yummy kulfi ...looks fab ...yum

  12. Looks extremely delicious. I remember having this in India in mini earthen pots.

  13. Yummy Kulfi, and lovely memories. We used to get Kulfi Falooda when we were small, somehow all those strings attached didn't make it particularly attractive to me. I opted for ice cream always ;-) Now I love Kulfi.

    About the incident. Well, did he take the coins off DD2's hand ? That makes it a very wrong thing to do and you were correct.
    But I guess your Mom was right too in a way. I am sure if the waiter is a young one, his tips gets snatched away and so maybe he wanted to make sure that he gets to keep these before anybody else sees it.

  14. i tried malai kulfi...yet to post in my blog..looks nice will try almond kulfi

  15. Great summer delicacy...wonderful combo there

  16. Sandeepa, I am with you there, no falooda kulfi for me as well. Those pots of kulfi had no 'strings' in them.

    Yes, he did take it out of her hand which made her cry and be scared as well.

  17. Poor DD! must have felt so violated. Can't blame the waiter as he probably thought she was playing with 'his' money.

    What I'd have done - if my mom had admonished me (No! it wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise).. eaten my food and left a tip + that 2 rupees.

    The icecreams!!! :) Sigh!! I'm just waiting for a house so I can get a damn icecream maker and make my own dairy free icecream :) Gosh! I feel better getting that out of my system. Your icecreams are killing me here. :) lol!

  18. Your kulfi is really delicious and yummy....

    First time visiting your blog and its wonderful blog...

    When you find time, do visit my blog and I would like to invite you to participate in the events CID-2010 and DNSW: A by sending your special recipes.


  19. Thanks for the recipe! I will try this!

  20. your mention of annaporna and Lakshmi complex makes me want to go home now. with Eid and Diwali around the corner, city will be bustling....i miss the tightly woven maligai poo chendu too :)

    You have a good blog, i landed here in search of a recipe and leaving your site with a thought that i should call my mom to check on Kovai..lolz...


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