Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Piste di Kulfi (Reduced Milk Pistachio Ice Cream)


Just in time for the heat of the dog days of summer, below is a reprint of Mama’s Piste di Kulfi recipe. It is a dessert that started on the streets of Indian cities but has become a popular dessert at many parties and Indian restaurants. It is reprinted with some additional information and directions.

In the heat of the Delhi summer, a welcome sight is that of the ice cream vendor who offers a variety of cold treats from his colorful insulated pushcart. If you are lucky, he might even have a traditional kulfi (reduced milk ice cream) in several flavors.

Many years ago, the kulfiwala (kulfi man) would ride down neighborhood streets on his sturdy old-fashioned bicycle with a huge pot made of brass (which later became aluminum), with its wide mouth covered tightly with several layers of damp red cloth.

As he called out his wares – “kuuulfi ….. kulfi le lo” (ice cream …. get your ice cream) – people, young and old, would run out to stop him. He would roll back the red cloth and pull out long sticks from the pot, with the end covered in a 6 to 8 inch long conical zinc cylinder. He’d dip this into a pot of warm water to loosen up the frozen kulfi, give it a sharp hit and the cylinder would quickly separate. Out would pop the glistening kulfi on the stick! Sometimes, it would be just the cylinder with no stick and he’d serve the kulfi cut in slices in a small bowl.

These days, the kulfi is made in many different types of molds, from fashionable little clay pots covered with a taut cloth over its wide mouth to regular disposable cardboard cups with a peel away cover. But the joy of eating a frozen sweet treat during the hot summer days is still as great as ever. Kulfi is served at parties as desert and with all sorts of extra ingredients like nuts or toppings like falooda (thin, transparent wet noodles). And it can come in several different flavors too, like kesari (saffron) and others.

This kulfi recipe is not the traditional one but the much simpler American version which tastes just as good. But it is much easier and faster to make and suits modern lifestyles.


• 1 pint (473ml) Ultra pasteurized heavy whipping cream
• 1 can (14 oz) Sweetened fat free condensed milk
• 1 can (12 oz) Evaporated milk
• 15-20 shelled piste (pistachios) – shredded into small pieces


1. In a bowl, open the evaporated milk, condensed milk and whipping cream and mix well with a wisk.
2. Add the pistachios and mix further.
3. Pour into icicle containers or in small plastic cups.
4. Place the cups in the freezer overnight. The kulfi will be ready to eat in the morning.
5. To serve, dip the container in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and the kulfi will pop right out. Serve in a bowl or on a small plate.



Those who are not well-versed cooks or are new to cooking Indian foods, can be particularly frustrated while making simple daals (lentils), not because of the spices and the taste but by the amount of water that is needed to bring out the flavor. To this you have to add that some daals require a lot more water than others, but in any case, you don’t want to make watery daals that become like soup.

There are some daals – like sabad moong (green whole moong) or sabad urad or in Punjabi, mah (whole black urad or mah) – that require a lot more water. After these become just tender, if you let them sit, the daal will thicken and the water just disappears! Just add more water and let these daals simmer on very low heat and the curry will thicken just right. You may have to add some more spices to balance the taste again.


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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes