Traditional Kulfi Ice Pops

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is the traditional way to make kulfi, India’s version of ice cream pops: from concentrated milk that has been cooked down to about a third of its volume. As boiling down the milk is a bit time-consuming, most Indian home cooks don’t make these ice pops. But they are better than any commercial ones I’ve tried, so I think they are well worth the effort.


I like to fortify the milk with a little 10% cream to boost the milk-fat content just a touch, to approximate rich natural milk.Variation

Saffron and Pistachio Kulfi Ice Pops: Reduce cardamom to 6 pods. Omit almonds and increase pistachios to 1/3 cup (75 mL). In a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, coarsely grind a pinch of saffron threads with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the sugar. Stir into kulfi at the very end of cooking. While kulfi mixture is cooling, stir it 2 or 3 times.



Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian


Taste and Texturecreamy, nutty, sweet

Type of Dishdessert, frozen dessert


  • 7 cups whole milk 1.75 L
  • 1 cup half-and-half (10%) cream (see Notes) 250 mL
  • 8 cardamom pods, crushed 
  • 3 whole cloves 3
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp chopped blanched almonds 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp chopped natural pistachios (skins rubbed off) or blanched almonds 30 mL


  1. In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, combine milk, cream, cardamom and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium and boil gently, stirring often (at least every 5 minutes) and stirring in any skin that forms, until liquid is reduced to 3 cups (750 mL), about 80 to 100 minutes.

  2. Place a sieve over a large measuring cup and strain. Discard solids. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir in sugar, almonds and pistachios; simmer over low heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

  3. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Place in freezer and chill, stirring a few times, until slushy, about 1½ to 2 hours. Whisk until smooth and thick. Spoon into molds, tapping them on work surface to remove any air pockets. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, at least 3 more hours.


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