“Junoon!Junoon! Junoon!” – The most famous Indian TV soap I grew up watching ends with these words at 10.00 PM. In every home, this memorable song of 1990’s would echo between the walls and the entire housing complex where I lived would remain silent when the show airs. With no cable TV or fancy play stations to play with, everyone from 6 to 60 years of age will be glued to watch simple yet quality shows in doordarshan (Indian national TV channel). And at exactly 10.01 pm, there in the distant corner of the colony entrance, I will hear “ding..ding..ding” sound of an aluminum bell. I would climb up the sofa to the window pane and stand between the iron beam of the window grill to tuck my face between it and watch the glorious entry of that tricycle guy with a huge circular tank covered with a red cloth. A rustic chimney light by his side would attract the flies that would happily jump between the luminous light, cleaning water and the red cloth.
It is a strict no from my parents to eat those kulfis and that’s the case in most homes. Everyone finds its dirty and unhygienic. But sometimes during summer time, my mom would buy it for me. My dad is one super picky and super hygenic person who will stare at a water tumbler zillion times before taking a sip and his eyes would scan for microscopic dirt.So appa is ruled out from the list. With a ten rupee note in hand, I would walk with my dad to buy 5 kulfis, one for each of us (my cousin,amma, perimma, perippa and myself).
I would run to that young guy clad in colored lungi and red shirt and say “5 kulfis, anna!” displaying my tiny five fingers and after a pause, I will complete “Special”. Special means he will add some more nuts while serving. He will break open a small cylindrical container made in plastic,with a pairing knife dipped in his water, he would tap around its surface and loosen its edges by running along the corner and tactfully force a wooden stick at its center and pull out the voluptuous kulfi. Finally drizzled with some crunchy toasted pistachios and cashews that will stick to it like a paper to its glue, you are sure to enter heaven alive. While enduring its taste, my amma would add “don’t know he made it with which water, look at the water he dips his knife, its milky and blurry and I am sure you are going to fall sick”. Even after those strong warnings, yes it was indeed a scary statement for a 7 year old, I would lick and enjoy it every bit. My heart would feel light and the air around me would fluff up into an imaginary cloud that will fly me up in the sky. As I finish clicking the last drop of the kulfi, my first question will be when can we have it again and my cousin would jump in to ask the same. Both the moms would say next summer.
But the craving got uncontrollable, I would beg and cry to buy them often. That’s when my mom started making it at home. Even those kulfis were rationed and it was made sporadic. Whenever she made it, I made sure to stick around her. As she simmered and cooked the milk to a thick liquid and added condensed milk and nuts, I would watch her with curious eyes, absorbing her directions step-by-step. My mom while pouring into the molds would say that the freezer should not be opened for 8 hours. I would nod in excitement that I will not open it for sure. But after my mom naps in the afternoon, I would tip-toe to the Godrej fridge, painted in red to check the molds. I will keep opening it every now and then to see whether they were done. Little annoyed with the doors being banged often, my mom would shout from the bedroom that this constant opening is going to delay the freezing process. I closed them after a final check and sat in the corner of the rectangular dining table next to a window gazing at the tall grasses in the backyard until my mom woke up, around 4.00PM. Can we have it now? was my first question when I saw my amma enter the dining room tying her loose hair into a bun, koondai. I don’t think so, may be after dinner. Disappointed. I would set out for my evening play time in our park with a hope to come back for some yummilicious kulfis. All set – creamy, nutty and hard, they were delicious till the last drop.
Now its 10.00PM here, there is no Junoon to watch, there is no “Beware” statements from amma, there is no ding-ding-ding sound in the distance but there is my amma’ plump-plump-kesar kulfi in the freezer ready for me to indulge. While I engulf myself in that sinfully irresistible dessert, let me tease you all with some pictures.
Makes 6 molds
2 cups heavy cream
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup warm milk
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup choppedalmonds
1 teaspoon cardamon powder
1. Warm the milk in a microwave for 30 seconds, add saffron strands and keep aside.
2. Bring the evaporated milk to a soft boil. Then add the cream. Bring that to a soft boil, add the warm milk with the saffron and condensed milk. Whisk while cooking for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the cardamon powder, pistachios and almonds. Remove from flame and cool it to room temperature.
4. Pour them into plastic molds. Freeze for upto 8 hours or overnight.
5. To serve, remove from the freezer and keep it out for 5 minutes. Try to pull out with a stick. Most of the time, like me if you end up with just the stick, don’t panic. Use a pairing knife, tap the surface and work your way along the edges to loosen it. Then insert the stick at its center and pull it. This time you will not miss it for sure. Enjoy!