The entire combination is divine: hot delicate vermicelli, cold creamy kulfi, the slight bite of nuts, all rounded off with a lovely finishing note of violets.
Bring the milk to the boil in a heavy-based pan over a moderate flame, stirring often. You need to make sure it doesn’t boil over or burn. Stay close to the pan and stir, scraping the base so the milk does not catch, stirring the skin that forms on the surface back in and scraping down the sides of the pan; these bits are all an integral part of the kulfi. Simmer over a medium heat and reduce until just 600–650 ml remains; it will have turned a light cream colour. The whole thing will take around 1½–2 hours over a medium heat, so be prepared and make it at a time when you need to be in the kitchen anyway. It’s worth the effort, as a kulfi which is not properly reduced will be icy rather than creamy.
Add most of the sugar and all the ground cardamom, return to the boil and cook for a few minutes more. Add the cream, then taste and adjust the sugar, bearing in mind that as it freezes the sweetness will dull a little. Leave to cool, then add the pistachios and almonds.
Pour into your moulds (I use 150 ml pudding basins and cover with cling film). Once the mixture is cold, place in the freezer; they will take around five to six hours to freeze. Stir once or twice as they are freezing, to redistribute the nuts.
About eight minutes before you want to serve, take out the kulfis. Place a pot of water to boil on the hob. Break the vermicelli and drop large strands into the boiling water on the hob, then boil for one minute. Take one out, it should be soft; if it is, drain all the noodles.
Two to three minutes before serving, place the kulfi moulds, open side up, in a deep bowl of just-boiled water to help liquify the edges, making sure the water does not get in the moulds. Invert the kulfis on to your serving plates and place a moat of vermicelli around them. Drizzle the syrup over the vermicelli, sprinkle over the chia seeds, if using, and the extra nuts. Add some edible flowers if you can find them, and serve.
Kulfi is India’s national ice cream. It is often served with a mass of clear cornflour noodles doused in rose syrup. You cannot buy those noodles here, but you can buy very fine pre-roasted vermicelli from Indian shops and I think it’s better than the original!
I have also discovered violet syrup (I get mine, the Présent brand, online); it has all the floral notes of rose but is more delicate and has fast become a staple in my house (my daughter even drizzles it over pancakes).
I often make a double batch of kulfi in two large saucepans, so I can save some for later.
Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)
Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
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