Evaporated Milk: The Secret Ingredient That Makes Kulfi So Rich

Kulfi, a timeless delight in the world of frozen desserts that originated in India, stands out for its distinct richness compared to conventional ice cream. Its essence is anchored in a secret ingredient: evaporated milk. The lengthy process for making kulfi involves simmering milk until it thickens and then adding flavorings such as saffron, cardamom, or nuts. This flavorful mixture is then poured into molds and frozen, resulting in a creamy, intense dessert without the need for an ice cream machine.

But what exactly is the difference between milk and evaporated milk? According to Healthline, evaporated milk is created by removing about 60% of the water content from regular milk through a slow and gentle heating process that calls for constant stirring. This reduction results in a thicker, more concentrated milk with a slightly caramelized flavor. 

Evaporated milk is often used in cooking and baking to add richness and creaminess to dishes, making it the perfect base for kulfi. And while you can make your own evaporated milk, modern recipes often call for store-bought evaporated milk to help quicken the usually long simmering process without losing any richness, making this dessert one you won't want to skip.

History of kulfi

Kulfi is a cherished dessert whose roots can be traced back over centuries. It gained prominence during the Mughal era, when flavors were added to condensed milk to give it a more luxurious allure. The mixture was then frozen. The Mughal emperors' courts in particular are credited with refining kulfi into an art form, introducing aromatic spices like saffron and pistachios to enhance its taste and aroma.

Over time, kulfi's popularity extended beyond the palace walls, becoming a beloved street food and festive treat. Its evolution mirrored the region's diverse cultural influences, with regional variations incorporating local ingredients and techniques. Among these delightful renditions are the classics, such as the Malai Kulfi, which upholds the essence of reduced milk infused with cardamom and saffron. The Pista Kulfi introduces a satisfying crunch with pistachios, while the Mango Kulfi celebrates the season's sweetness with a burst of ripe fruit flavor.  

These days, kulfi remains a symbol of nostalgia and celebration. Modern-day recipes may substitute store-bought cans of evaporated milk or condensed milk, and even adding in heavy cream to speed up the cooking process. And since this dessert doesn't need a machine like most ice creams, you can easily make it at home. So, grab a can of evaporated milk and your favorite mold, and start cooking!