Kulfi is a frozen dessert popular in India and throughout South Asia. The malai version gets its name from the ultrathick cream base that’s used. Spiced with cardamom and saffron and then studded with pistachios, this frozen pop is packed with all the deliciousness associated with Indian food, chilled into a sweet ice-box treat.

Special equipment: You will need freezer pop molds for this recipe. If yours don’t come with sticks that attach securely, you can buy wooden sticks and insert them about 1 1/2 hours into the freezing time.

This recipe was featured as part of our 7 Ice Pops That Break the Mold.

  • Yield: About 6 (4-ounce) ice pops
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 30 mins, plus at least 8 hrs freezing time 

Ingredients (7)

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped


  1. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.
  2. Place the whole milk and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to steam but does not come to a boil, about 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir until incorporated and the cornstarch has dissolved.
  4. When the milk mixture is ready, whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a spoon or rubber spatula until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cardamom and saffron.
  5. Pour the mixture through the strainer and discard the contents of the strainer. Stir in the pistachios and then fill the pop molds halfway with the mixture. Freeze until almost solid, about 2 hours. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the remaining kulfi mixture to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate while the pops are in the freezer.
  6. After 2 hours, remove the remaining kulfi mixture from the refrigerator and stir to reincorporate the pistachios. Remove the molds from the freezer and divide the rest of the mixture among them. Insert the sticks and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours.