Pawpaw Kulfi

Kulfi is a velvety-rich milk dessert, and I will always remember pista (pistachio) kulfi, sold at the 100-year-old Irani creamery in Mumbai, for its vivid green color and dense consistency. Churned ice cream has air pockets that create fluffy lightness; but in kulfi,  reduced milk produces an impenetrable creamy thickness. Plain milk (malai) or pistachio are the two most common flavors, but you’ll usually see mango kulfi during the short season of the prized Alphonso mango — as everybody tries to extend the flavor of this fast-ripening fruit. When I was given a pawpaw at Ferderber Farms in Pennsylvania, the farmer’s wife pointed out its similarity to two tropical fruits of my childhood, mango and custard apple. The pawpaw also shares a small window of time when the fruit is at its best, and I created a pawpaw kulfi to prolong this summer treat.

Native to Pennsylvania and the Eastern part of the country, pawpaw has floral notes and a green outer skin that is like that of a mango. The pale silk-colored flesh, complete with several large black seeds that neatly run through its middle, is similar to custard apple. Pawpaw is an ancient fruit tree, although it has been less popular for awhile. However, if you are in the Pennsylvania area, keep an eye out for this fruit.: Pawpaw is delicious on its own, and can also be substituted in any recipe that uses mango.

Pawpaw Kulfi

Whole milk – 2 cups

Evaporated milk – 1½ cup

Condensed milk – ¼ cup

Cardamom pods – 3

Pawpaw – 1, peeled, flesh mashed

Unsalted pistachio nuts – crushed for decoration

  • Add the milk and evaporated milk to a cast iron pan. Bring to a boil, and then immediately lower the heat to simmer. Stir continuously for the next five minutes. Fold in any milky film that forms on the surface.
  • Add the condensed milk and the cardamom pods. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring continuously. The milk will thicken as it reduces in volume.
  • Remove from heat.
  • While the milk is still hot, add the mashed pawpaw, stirring until well incorporated.
  • Discard the cardamom pods.
  • Let the kulfi cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, pour the kulfi into small individual glass cups or molds and cover with aluminum foil. Alternatively, pour into a large stainless steel container with a lid. Freeze for about eight hours.
  • When ready to serve, dip the individual moulds into hot water, allowing the hot water to come up the sides and loosen the kulfi from the mold. Serve immediately.
  • Decorate with pistachio slivers.


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National Rice Pudding Day

I was thrilled that this Sunday (August 9th) coincided with Rice Pudding Day, an easy way to indulge my sweet tooth. More importantly, the day fitted with my summer Sunday philosophy, which consists of putting as little effort as possible into cooking and as much effort as possible into enjoying the day. Salads and grilled food are easy to put together. Dessert from an untouched box of rice from a takeout Chinese leftover was sweeter.

Rice pudding is made with uncooked rice that is simmered in whole milk and sugar. The cooked rice has a porridge-like consistency and is rich and comforting. On the other hand, sticky cooked rice needs a summery infusion to freshen flavor. Lemon verbena, a new herb that I bought from a friend’s stall at the farmer’s market, has the crisp aroma of freshly cut lime or lemon. The leaves of lemon verbena also has warmth and richness of deeper spices like cardamom, which normally perfumes rice pudding. Nothing says summer like the scent of crushed herbs on the fingertips, and lemon verbena didn’t fail.


The coconut milk infusion made with lemon verbena  countered the day-old rice’s taste, and injected the rice with fresh flavors of lemon and the creamy taste of coconut milk.  Instead of garnishing with raisins and cashews, fresh raspberries and blueberries completed this lazy Sunday dessert.

Rice Pudding

Long grain rice – ¼ cup, washed and drained through a colander

Whole milk – 4 cups

Whole cardamom – 6

Sugar – 4 tbsp

Butter – 1tbsp

Raisins – ¼ cup

Cashew nuts – ¼ cup

  • Bring the milk to a boil.
  • Add the sugar and cardamom and stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Lower the heat to medium, and add the rice.
  • Cover the pan, and cook until rice is soft, about 20-25 minutes.
  • While the rice is cooking, heat the butter in a pan.
  • Add the raisins and cashew nut and stir-fry, until the raisins swell and the cashew nuts have a golden color. Use as garnish on the top of individual bowls of rice pudding.
  • Serve rice pudding warm or cold.

Rice Pudding (with cooked rice)

Leftover rice – 3/4 of carton

Organic coconut milk – 1 can

Sugar – 4 tbsp

Lemon verbena – 8-10 leaves, torn roughly

Fresh berries – a handful

  • Bring the coconut milk to a simmer.
  • Add the sugar and lemon verbena leaves. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  • Remove the pan from heat and let the coconut milk with the leaves sit undisturbed for 20 minutes to an hour.
  • Bring it back to a gentle heat. Add rice. Stir until all the clumps of rice are broken up and incorporated into the coconut milk infusion.
  • Serve immediately. Garnish with berries.

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