The other week Dylan and I booked a trip to India and to celebrate and to prepare ourselves another cookbook was added to our collection.
I think Indian cuisine is often perceived as being a complex and labour intensive one. To be fair there are a lot of new ingredients, flavours and names of dishes to get your head around which probably doesn't help the uninitiated, myself included.
Learning to cook a new cuisine I think is a bit like learning a new language. You need to fully immerse yourself to get a good grip on the methods and subtleties. This meant two weeks in the Edmonds-Pine household of eating pretty much nothing but curry. The thing is though, Indian is so much more than just curry. It is only a tiny fraction of what the cuisine has in store. Curry as we know it is not even truely historically authentic Indian; It is a by-product of colonisation. British colonials (ugh with their poor taste in food) needed saucy gravy with their typically dry (but delicious) tandoor cooked meats and so the creamy and tomatoey curries we know and love were born to meet this demand. Part of me is thrilled this happened because anglo-curry is delicious but also I am disappointed in my ancestors for just being a bit shit with their food and not accepting that not everything has to be drenched in goopy subtances.
So I am currently hanging out for spring when all the fresh spring greens come out and I can try some lighter dishes and I don't need to take out a mortgage to buy a single pomegranate. In the meantime however I shall continue to ply my friends on these cool Christchurch days with soul and belly warming curries.
I made this dessert for a curry themed supper club we hosted the other night. After a table full with bowls of thick meaty curries, dahl, paneer, paratha and rice it was really nice to sit back and have a palate cooling dessert. Kulfis are an Indian no-churn take on ice cream. They use evaporated milk to get that wonderful caramelised milky taste to them. The reasonably high sugar and fat content also makes them almost fudgy when you slice a spoon through them. The original recipe called for saffron and a million dollars worth of pistachios. I adapted the recipe to be slightly cheaper but also be more spice infused. The idea of lacing this with cardamom came to me the other day when I went to go sniff some ground cardamom and it accidentally went right up into my nose. For the rest of the day my world smelt wonderfully of cardamom and so I had a hankering to pop it into something sweet.
I lacked the proper molds to freeze these in so I just used cheap plastic cups which actually worked a treat as you can kind of squeeze the kulfi onto the plate rather than having to bang it out.
I only had cardamom pods for this which once soaked I took out, removed the seeds from them, then returned the seeds back into the mix. I think using ground cardamom would be all around a better option as the seeds are quite intense if you bite into them but they do offer a lovely texture to look at when they freeze at the bottom of the cups.
Pistachios are beautiful to look at but hella spenny if you need any significant volume of them. Rather using ground pistachio in the kulfi itself I opted for ground almond to provide the lovely texture whilst also saving some serious coin. I popped some chopped pistachios at the bottom of the cup for decorative effect and then garnished with more of them later.
Also this recipe is dinner party sized - feel free to halve it if you're catering for a smaller crowd.
Pistachio and Cardamom Kulfi
Very loosely adapted from a recipe by Meera Sodha from Made in India
Makes 12 small serves
600ml tinned evaporated milk
200g castor sugar
200g ground almond
20 cracked cardamom pods (or a tablespoon of ground cardamom - use more to taste if you wish)
2 cinnamon sticks
A pinch of ground ginger
A pinch of ground cloves
A pinch of ground nutmeg
Freeze dried raspberries to decorate
12 plastic cups or kulfi molds
In a saucepan place the evaporated milk, sugar and spices and bring to a gentle simmer, being careful not to scald the milk on the bottom of the pan. Leave to simmer away for say twenty thirty minutes or until you feel like the milk is sufficiently fragrant and infused. If using cardamom pods, remove them from the milk, crack them open and return the seeds inside to the milk.
While still over a gentle heat add the ground almond and whisk through to remove any lumps. The almond should weirdly absorb a lot of moisture and create a wonderful thick mixture. At this point remove the milk from the heat then add in the cream and whisk until smooth and uniform. Leave this to cool then remove the cinnamon sticks.
Place around 5 grams of chopped pistachio at the bottom of each cup. Either with a ladle or by transferring the kulfi mixture into the jug split the mix between the 12 cups. This works out at around 115g per cup. Transfer the cups into a deep tray (I used my big Christmas cake tin), wrap grad wrap over the top to prevent the kulfi picking up freezer odours, then pop in the freezer overnight.
When it comes time to serve the kulfi get a mug of hot water and dunk each cup to loosen it from the sides then invert it and squeeze it onto a plate. Garnish with slivers of left over pistachio and crumbs of freeze dried raspberries.