Strawberry Rose Kulfi with Pistachios | Progressive Eats

a strawberry rose kulfi with pistachios 1Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is a Kebab Fest and is hosted by Anshie Dhar who blogs at Spice Roots. Join us and make something unique and delicious!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

Strawberry Rose Kulfi with Pistachios

Yes, indeed, it’s Progressive Eats time again! I love being a part of this blogging group. I use the opportunity to try and stretch myself and go the extra mile or two to make something that really embodies the theme of the month. While I enjoy stepping outside of my dessert box, occasionally I like to stick to my first love and make a very special dessert as part of an ending to our monthly virtual feast.

I was originally going to make strawberry shortcakes on skewers, but then when I began researching kebabs, I found out that not all kebabs are served or even cooked on sticks or spits, so I asked our esteemed hostess, Anshie, to suggest a dessert I could make that would be typical of a kebab meal–a meal eaten out of hand while wandering about a busy cosmopolitan city soaking in the sights, sounds and smells it has to offer. Anshie suggested I make Kulfi, which is India’s answer to ice cream. It is not churned, which makes it a nice alternative to ice cream if you don’t have an ice cream churn. Since it is still-frozen with a very low moisture content, the resulting frozen treat is dense, creamy and slow to melt.

a strawberry rose kulfi with pistachiosIf you were to purchase kulfi out in the markets in New Delhi or Mumbai, for instance, they would most likely be formed in these molds you see below. I tried to find kulfi molds, but there weren’t any traditional metal ones to be found on Amazon. Still, I wanted you to see them.

The photo, used as-is from Farhan Chawla is from flickr and is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
2350504662_67a6a83e9a_zThis is a photo (used as-is from TheMightyQuill Licensed under a Creative Commons License) of a layered kulfi made in a traditional mold. While some are served on sticks, others are unmolded, sliced and served on broad leaves. I’m sure that paper plates would make a reasonable substitute for the leaves.1024px-Kulfi

Anshie told me that she often makes kulfi in a loaf pan and then slices it to serve. I also looked at the kulfi recipe on her site and saw that she has also frozen them in wine glasses. It seems that traditional presentations aren’t as critical when you’re making kulfi at home, so I chose to mold some of mine in ramekins while I poured others into small cocktail glasses.

According to all I read from Anshie’s site and others, the base is the most important part of the kulfi. Traditionally, it’s made by slowly reducing milk and sugar over low heat, sometimes with additional milk solids added for richness. The recipe I worked from called for additional thickening using corn starch, so you could even consider kulfi to be related to a no-churn Sicilian gelato.

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My base recipe came from Vidya Lakshmi’s blog, Vidya’s Cooking. Her recipe included a helpful video that I watched twice. From there, I sort of went my own way, making a simple cooked strawberry sauce and adding rosewater to it to get the flavor I wanted: Strawberry Rose Kulfi with Pistachios. I also took Anshie’s advice and folded in some very softly whipped cream to my finished base+sauce. She promised that if I added whipped cream, that my kulfi would rock, and I think she’s correct. It does rock. It’s dense, and creamy. It’s not even a bit icy. It’s a gorgeous pale pink that looks especially lovely with the chopped pistachios as a garnish. I can taste the caramelized milk solids that took so long to develop, and the finished dish is the perfect sweetness even though the base alone is almost tooth-achingly sweet.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Strawberry-Rose Kulfi with Pistachios | Progressive Eats
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
This strawberry rose kulfi is India's dense, creamy, slow-melting answer to churned ice cream. If you've never had it before, you are in for a treat.

Do use a scale to make this. Some of the recipes I worked from were in metric and I found it easier to just keep it that way.
What You Need
For the Base
  • 750ml whole milk
  • 1 packet powdered dried milk, enough to make 1 quart (approximately 90ml)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • heavy pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons rice flour or corn starch dissolved in 2 Tablespoons cold water until there are no lumps
For the Strawberry Rose Puree
  • 1 pound (16 oz) strawberries, washed and topped
  • pinch of salt
  • rose water, to taste. I used about 1 teaspoon
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring, optional
To Finish
  • 12 oz (by weight) kulfi base (you will have some leftover. Use it to make another flavor of kulfi)
  • 12 oz (by weight)
  • 12 oz (by weight) heavy cream
  • rose water to taste, if necessary. I used about ½ teaspoon
  • 8-10 strawberries, washed, topped, hulled and cut into small dice
  • 1-1½ Tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • a couple of grindings of black pepper, optional
  • Chopped pistachios (I used dry roasted)
What To Do
For the Kulfi Base
  1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine all the base ingredients except for the starch/water slurry.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring very frequently, until the mixture just comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to maintain the merest simmer and reduce the mixture by about one half. This took me about 2 hours. Stir very frequently to prevent sticking and scorching and keep the heat low. Thick "cream" will form on the top in between stirrings. Whisk that back into the mixture.
  4. Once the milk has reduced by half and is a very pale caramel color--just a bit more caramelized looking than sweetened condensed milk (which is honestly pretty much what you're making), whisk in the starch slurry, bring to a boil and whisk constantly for about 10 seconds just to thicken the mixture even more.
  5. Strain into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
For the Strawberry Rose Puree
  1. Toss the strawberries and salt into a sauce pan. Cook over medium-low heat until the juices start to release. Mash the strawberries as they cook with a potato masher or just crush them against the sides of the pan with a spoon.
  2. Once the mashed strawberries come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes, just to reduce slightly. Puree the strawberries in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  3. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to get rid of all the seeds. Whisk in the food coloring, if using (I did since my strawberry puree wasn't a gorgeous deep red)
  4. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To Finish
  1. Once the two mixtures have come to room temperature, measure out 12 oz of the base into another bowl.
  2. Whisk in the strawberry puree (you should have just about 12 ounces, so use it all).
  3. Whisk the whipping cream until it reaches the ribbon stage. You want it to be thick but not holding peaks.
  4. Thoroughly fold the whipped cream into the strawberry-rose-base mixture. Taste and add a bit more rose water if you think it needs it.
  5. Ladle or pour into whatever molds you like. You can even use popsicle molds.
  6. Freeze at least six hours.
For the Garnish
  1. Combine the strawberries with the sugar, salt and pepper (if using). Allow to macerate for two hours in the fridge.
To Unmold (if you're unmolding)
  1. Dip the molds into warm water for about 20 seconds.
  2. Run a thin spatula or knife around the inside of your molds to loosen them.
  3. Place a small plate on top of your mold. Flip the two over and shake firmly a couple of times. You should be able to hear when the kulfi drops onto the plate. Carefully remove the mold.
  4. Serve with some macerated strawberries and a sprinkle of the pistachios
Other Stuff to Know
As written, this recipe made 6 6-ounce servings of kulfi. You can use the entire base if you like. Just weigh it and keep the proportions at 1 part base, 1 part puree and 1 part whipped cream.

While it seems like a ton of steps, you can make the base one day, the strawberry puree the next and then finish it on the third day. I made the base and the puree on the same day, mixed them together and let them hang out in the fridge for two days before whipping the cream and freezing the kulfis. So, while it may be a bit complicated, you can absolutely space out the steps to fit your schedule.

I hope you enjoyed having dessert first, and now please enjoy our virtual progressive Kebab Fest! And thank you, Anshie, for such a great theme and for teaching me about kulfi!

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Kebab Fest for Progressive Eats

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Wow, what a feast! I hope you are as much a fan of Progressive Eats as I am! Every menu is simply spectacular. To see all of them, please visit Barb’s Progressive Eats page.

Thanks so much for spending some time here today.

Take care, and have a lovely day.


Intrigued by kulfi? Here are some more resources for you:


PS While kulfi isn’t really ice cream, I’m still calling this an Ice Cream Tuesday since it’s a frozen dairy treat.


  1. says

    I didn’t realize until today that not all kebabs are on sticks. I have the sudden urge to go do some research! This is so incredibly beautiful, and I bet incredibly tasty, as well.

    • says

      Yes, the whole not-always-on-a-stick was news to me too, Heather! Of course, you could make kulfi in popsicle molds, but I think it looks more exotic this way! =) And they are really, really delicious. Caramelized milk plus strawberries plus rose=yum! Next up, I’m going to make mango ones. What a great theme this month!

  2. says

    SO wonderful that you make a traditional Indian dessert for our kebab fest! Perfectly creamy, dreamy and gorgeous!!!

  3. says

    I must say Jenni, you have excelled in the art of kulfi making by making the base with the slow reduction of milk. I am so impressed with your dedication for Indian food. Now if only I could taste this kulfi right now… where is the download button!!

    • says

      I would share it with you in a heartbeat, Ansh! Thank you so much for so generously sharing your love of Indian food with the rest of us. So that I can copy you! =)

    • says

      I’m surprised that I’d never had it, especially since Indian is my favorite! As soon as Anshie suggested kulfi, I jumped straight to strawberry and rose water. I’m really pleased it worked out and am very happy to know how to make the base, because next up is mango kulfi!

  4. says

    You had me at strawberries and rosewater. And as to the final product, well I can’t stop staring at the beautiful cups of kulfi in your photos – so mouth-watering and perfect for eating on the deck after a kebab fest, as the grill cools down and we all sit back to enjoy dessert.


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