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Nik Sharma’s Spiced Coffee Kulfi: A frosty treat against the heat



Nik Sharma's Spiced Coffee Kulfi: A frosty treat against the heat

(Photography by Nik Sharma)

Spiced Coffee Kulfi by Nik Sharma is an icy-cool sweet that is also a little bitter. Also sounding good: It’s really easy to make and doesn’t require any special equipment – not even a coffee maker, just a few casserole dishes or kulfi dishes if you have some. So if a simple coffee plus kulfi indulgence is your idea to brave the heat, this is for you! Scroll down to get the recipe taken from his cookbook, The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking in 114 Essential Recipes.

Spiced coffee Kulfi

From Nik Sharma

When I was in high school in India, a street vendor would come by the school every afternoon during our lunch break. Attached to the back of his bike was a large metal box with chunks of ice and metal containers of frozen kulfi. I hesitate to call kulfi an Indian ice cream because it really isn’t; It’s a kind of frozen dessert. In contrast to ice cream, where ice crystals are a negative property, a kulfi contains a certain amount of ice crystals and is a little firmer than a soft ice cream. Kulfi is one of the easiest goodies to have at home. Prepare beforehand so that there is enough time to freeze.

The taste approach:

The flavor molecules in the whole spices are extracted into the milk fat for a finer flavor that compliments the coffee. For a stronger flavor, add ½ teaspoon of ground spices directly to the milk. If you want to reduce the taste of the coffee, use ½ tbsp.

Using instant coffee helps in two ways: it dissolves very easily, and it delivers a very concentrated dose of coffee flavor without adding to the liquid volume that would otherwise be a problem in getting the right frozen texture. Excess water leads to a higher proportion of ice crystal formation by changing the ratio of the ingredients involved, such as fat, protein and sugar.

Condensed milk acts as an abbreviation here; it offers the taste of caramelized lactose, a distinctive feature of Indian-made kulfis.


  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • A 14 oz (400 g) can of condensed milk
  • A 400 g can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso or coffee
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 2 in (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 or 2 star anise
  • 35 g of ground roasted hazelnuts


Mix the whipped cream, condensed milk, condensed milk, instant espresso, salt, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the espresso dissolves and the liquids are mixed. Bring to a boil and remove from the stove. Press a piece of cling film against the surface of the mixture to prevent skin from forming and let the mixture steep for 1 hour at room temperature. Remove and throw away all the spices. Pour the liquid into 6 freezer-safe casserole dishes or kulfi tins. Wrap the tops with plastic wrap or cover with kulfi lids. Put in the freezer and let set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

The kulfi can be served directly in the molds. If you are using kulfi molds, hold the metal mold under water for a few seconds, turn it over and tap gently to loosen the kulfi. Garnish with the roasted hazelnuts.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Excerpted from The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking in 114 Essential Recipes by Nik Sharma (C) 2020 Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.

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