Pista Malai Kulfi (Pistachio Indian Ice Cream)


Kulfi (eggless Indian ice cream) is one of the most popular North Indian desserts. There are numerous varieties of kulfi flavors to choose from, the choices are almost endless. My favorite part about kulfi is how creative you can really get with making it. You can either make it simple yet flavorful or create something with a burst of flavors.

For the brief period of time I used to live in India, there were several things I fondly remember falling in love with; one of them being street vendor food. Street kulfi is like the equivalent of our ice cream truck here in the US. You can find really good kulfi here in the US as well, but nothing comes close to having it on the chaotic streets of New Delhi.

When we moved to Texas, my parents decided to experiment with making kulfi. I can still remember the adorable little clay pots they made the kulfi in; they were so beautifully adorned with a colorful cloth to keep them covered. Instead of making them simple and straight forward, my parents being the way they are, added their own flare to them. They decided to create their own version of Pistachio Malai Kulfi and it was out of this world. It was so rich and creamy and burst with flavor from the pistachios.

After attempting to make my mom’s recipe, I quickly learned one important aspect of it, patience is absolute key. With this particular recipe, not only do you have to be patient but you have to literally man the stove and not be away from your pan, otherwise you WILL end up with some lumpy kulfi.

Notes & Tips:
I highly recommend using a rubber spatula rather than a wooden spoon, it helps keep the mixture from forming or sticking to the pan.

For the ground cardamom, I used a coffee grinder to really create a fine, powder-like texture. You can also use a mortar & pestle, just make sure you take out the skin before adding to the pan.

When chopping the pistachios in a food processor, you can choose the consistency you want. I wanted them finely chopped but not completely powdered (like the cardamom). I prefer having a little bit of texture, but if you do not then I recommend grinding the pistachios completely until you reach your desired consistency.

32 oz Half and Half
2 Tbsp Custard Powder-Vanilla flavored
1 Tsp Cold Milk
1.5 Cups White Sugar
1 Cup finely chopped Pistachios (use a food processor for best results)
1/4 Cup of ground Cardamom (use a coffee grinder for best results)


  1. In a deep pan, add the half and half and keep the heat on low. Keep stirring and scraping up the sides so the half and half doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan.

  2. Add in the ground cardamom and mix well into the mixture. Keep stirring and let the mixture boil until it becomes a little thick in consistency.

  3. In a small bowl, add the custard powder and cold milk. You want to create a nice consistency that isn’t too thick or too thin. You can adjust the amount of powder or milk to reach the perfect consistency. Add into the pan and mix well to make sure no lumps form.

  4. Keep stirring the mixture, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan as well. Make sure no lumps form in your mixture.

  5. When the mixture becomes thicker, add in the sugar and mix well. Then add the pistachios and combine well.

  6. Keep on low heat until all ingredients are combined well and no lumps have formed.

  7. Take the pan off the heat and let the mixture cool down. Make sure you are still stirring and scraping off the sides from the pan as well

  8. Once the mixture has cooled down (it should have a thick consistency), pour it into your molds.

  9. Place in freezer for at least 24 hours.

  10. When you are ready to serve, just run the molds under warm water and pour onto a plate. If you used a small clay pot instead of a mold, then just leave it in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes prior to serving.

  11. Garnish with chopped pistachios. Enjoy 🙂

Note** I used kulfi molds (shown below), but you can use small clay pots as well, both can be found at your local Indian grocery store or market. If you do decide to use the small clay pots, make sure you cover them with a small piece of cloth and fasten with an elastic band around the neck of the pot before placing in the freezer.




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