Kesar Pista Kulfi – Saffron Pistachio Kulfi

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Kulfi is an Indian dessert made by boiling milk till it thickens and then adding sugar and other flavors to it. The most common ingredients added to the kulfi are saffron, cardamom, pistachios, almonds, rose water etc. The dessert comes in many flavors and these days we even get chocolate and paan kulfi!


Is kulfi like ice cream? I would say not really. The texture of a kulfi is very different from that of a ice cream. It has a grainy texture whereas ice cream is really creamy and melts into your mouth. In India, we get kulfi on sticks [just like popsicles] and one is supposed to lick on to it.

Traditionally kulfi is made by boiling the milk and then reducing it till it thickens. I followed the traditional method and it took around 1.5 hours for 2 liter of milk to reach the desired thickness. A good exercise for hands I say!


Nowadays there’s another quick way to make kulfi. Just use store bought evaporated milk, whipped cream, heavy cream and condensed milk. Churn everything together in a blender and freeze it. That’s it! So simple right? Then why do we need to waste so much time in reducing the milk. Well if you ask me the quick kulfi is good but cannot match the taste of the one which is made traditionally. Of course if you are running short of time then it is the best way to make kulfi in a jiffy. But if you have time in your hand, stick to the traditional method.


This kulfi didn’t have a single ice crystal in it, it came out really well. I know people add bread etc. to make sure there are no ice crytals upon freezing but I think the key is to get the milk to a really thick consistency. Once the milk is really thick, there will not be any ice and the kulfi’s would freeze perfectly.

So let’s dig into this yummlicious kulfi right away!

Yield: 12-14 kulfi [using regular kulfi mold]


Whole Milk: 2 liter [around 9-10 cups]

Heavy cream: 1 cup

Sugar: 3/4th cup [more or less depending on taste]

Cardamom Powder: 1 tsp

Corn Starch: 4-5 tsp, dissolved in 2 tbsp of water

Rose Water: 1 tbsp

Pistachio/Pista: 2/3 cup, chopped

Saffron/Kesar: a pinch dissolved in 1 tbsp of milk



1. Soak saffron stands in 1 tbsp of milk, set aside.

2. Dissolve the corn starch with water and set aside. Make sure there are no lumps.

3. Put the milk to boil in a heavy bottom pan. Once it comes to a boil, lower the flame and let the milk thicken. This will take more than an hour.

Kesar-Pista-Kulfi-Recipe-Step-1The most important thing here is to make sure that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. One has to stir the milk at regular intervals to make sure it doesn’t burn.

4. After 35 minutes or so, add the corn starch, saffron and sugar. Stir the corn starch mixture before adding to the milk else it might get stuck at the bottom of the bowl.

5. Add the cream  and continue to stir the milk regularly.

6. Now add the pistachios and mix well. The milk should continue to simmer at low heat.

Kesar-Pista-Kulfi-Recipe-Step-27. After almost 1.5 hours the milk should reach its desired thickness. Its very important for the milk to get really thick else the kulfi will have ice crystals when you freeze it.

8. Add cardamom powder, rose water and switch off the flame.

9. Check the consistency of the milk in the picture on the extreme right. It should be that thick.

Kesar-Pista-Kulfi-Recipe-Step-310. Let the mixture cool completely.

11. Pour the mixture into kulfi molds [you get them at Indian stores]. If you don’t have these molds you can freeze the kulfi in small bowls.

12. Cap the molds and put them in the freezer for minimum of 5-6 hours.

Kesar-Pista-Kulfi-Recipe-Step-413. Once set, take out the molds and put them in warm water for few seconds. The kulfi will come out easily.

14. Garnish with some pistachios [optional] and enjoy the delicious kulfi!


1. Use a heavy bottom pan to make the kulfi. It is extremely important else the milk will stick to the bottom of the pan.

2. Keep stirring the milk at regular intervals during the whole process. It cannot be left unattended. The stirring becomes all the more important after the milk starts to thicken. So I would say after 35-40 minutes or so stir the milk continuously.

3. The milk should be really thick before you pour it into the molds for freezing. This will make sure that the kulfi’s have no ice crystals in them upon freezing.

4. Many people use mawa/khoya in kulfi recipes and you can do that too.

Hi, I’m Manali!

Bringing you easy, delicious vegetarian & vegan recipes! Eating veggies can be fun, you just need to get creative in the kitchen with the right set of ingredients!

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    1. I am not quite sure what do you mean by hard? Once frozen, it’s obviously very hard. let the kulfi sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving, also cream adds to richness

  1. Mine crystallized after freezing. 🙁 I had evaporated 1.5 lt full cream milk to half. Did not add corn starch though.

  2. Would you have recommendations of what I might have done wrong and how I can fix in the future. Mine turned out gooey – it tasted great but after one day in the freezer, it still was not completely frozen, and was more like ice cream that is defrosted a bit and it was sticky vs liquid.


    1. I am really not sure why wouldn’t it freeze after being in the freezer overnight. Maybe try using some cornstarch slurry next time to make the mixture even more thick.

  3. The milk had reduced to 1/3, it was thick as well. But it does not freeze completely.

    However used 900ml milk reduced to 300ml appx, sugar was added after it had a boil. Added cardamon powder. However it tasted like evaporated milk at that point.

    1. So is corn starch important?
    2. I did not use low heat after the first boil ( is the temperature affecting the Kulfi process ?)

    Please advise.

    1. hmm you mean it didn’t set even when you left it in the freezer overnight? that’s weird. Corn starch helps in thickening and also in reaching the consistency that’s ideal for freezing well.