Kesar Pista Kulfi – Saffron Pistachios Ice-Cream


Kesar Pista Kulfi - Saffron Pistachios Ice-cream

There are some foods that we just can’t and don’t want to ever get erased from our memories. Many of those dishes are from our childhood which we enjoyed with our parents, siblings, cousins and grand-parents. The very thought of that food makes us nostalgic and more than our taste buds, it’s our heart that literally craves for it.


Kulfi is one such food, well actually a dessert that makes me go back to the yesteryears. Whenever we would visit our grand-parents, I remember the kulfi-wala passing by the streets on his bicycle with an earthen pot fitted at the back that were filled with smaller earthen pots called ‘matka’ which would hold the kulfis. An ice and salt mixture was used in the earthen pot to keep the kulfis frozen. He would make everyone in the street aware that delicious kulfis are just within arms reach and we kids would just be in a rush to head outside and stop him before he goes too far away. We would then enjoy this lip smacking, rich and creamy goodness to our heart’s content!

Kesar Pista Kulfi

‘Kulfi’ is a very popular frozen dessert of India. It is very similar to ice-cream with flavors ranging from fruits, nuts to earthy spices. Saffron, Pistachios, Rose, Almonds and Mango are a few widely loved varieties of kulfi. It is traditionally made by reducing milk to a thick, creamy consistency and then adding sugar for the sweetness and spices, fruit pulp or nuts to inculcate the flavors into it. Once, the creamy milk mixture is cooled down, it is filled into aluminium molds and frozen until it is nicely firm and frozen. Use ice-cream sticks and you have a super delicious popsicle.



After spending hours and hours of time reducing milk while making Kalakand for Diwali last year, the very thought of repeating it brought exhaustion upon me. So, I took a quicker route using part evaporated milk and part regular milk. For added creaminess and sweetness I used condensed milk. Although this was easier and quicker, it tasted very similar in taste and texture to the traditional kulfi.

Updated – When making any frozen dessert or ice-cream without an ice-cream machine, it’s important to prevent the crystallization in the dessert to preserve the creamy texture and taste. After I heard about this tip from one of my cousins, I tried it and it definitely yielded an improved kulfi. A hint of cardamom in addition to the saffron and pistachios also goes a long way in enhancing the flavors of this delicious crowd pleasing dessert!

We enjoyed these kulfis by winding up on the couch and watching highlights of the ‘sandstorm’ cricket match of 1998 when Sachin Tendulkar blew away everyone’s minds with his play. Even after 15 years, that game is still so entertaining. With the creamy kulfis on our taste buds….we then began reminiscing how simple life was back then! Those were the golden days….you know like it is said ‘Life was far better when ‘blackberry’ and ‘apple’ were just fruits!’

Enjoy your kulfis topped with more chopped pistachios!

Kesar Pista Kulfi Recipe Card

Prep time: 25 mins
Freeze time: at-least 4 hours or overnight


– Milk (Whole or Low-fat) – 1 cup
– Evaporated milk – 14 oz can – 1
– Condensed milk – 14 oz can – 1
– Kesar/Saffron threads – a pinch
– Pista/Pistachios – chopped – 1/4th cup + a few spoons for garnish
– Ground cardamom – a pinch
– Bread – 1 slice (any kind should be fine, I used whole-wheat)

1. In a sauce pan, take regular milk and evaporated milk. On low-medium heat let the milk come to a boil. Reduce heat just a bit and let it simmer until the consistency is a little thick.

2. Add condensed milk in batches mixing it well each time. After adding 3/4th of the can, taste it and see if you want more sweetness and then add the remaining as per taste.

(Updated)3. Remove the edges of the bread slice and in a coffee grinder, grind it into a coarse powder (kinda like bread crumbs) and add it to the sauce pan. Also, add a pinch of freshly ground cardamom seeds.

4. Add the saffron thread and further heat the mixture for a couple of minutes until the saffron gives out a nice aroma, flavor and color. Also, add chopped pistachios and turn off the stove.

5. Let it rest and cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, fill the molds (I used stainless steel tea glasses) with the creamy mixture and pop them into the freezer. After a couple of hours, insert the ice-cream sticks and leave them in the freezer overnight.

6. When it’s time to indulge, simply run the kulfi molds carefully under warm water just for a few seconds. Hold the stick and the kulfi will come out right away.

Garnish with more chopped pistachios and serve immediately.