These creamy Vegan Mango Kulfi Popsicles with the delicate flavor of cardamom will transport you into the best moments of an Indian summer.
Summers in Bombay are a delicious time to enjoy one of the city's most beloved street foods: a popsicle that goes by the rather cute name of kulfi.
Kulfi can be found nearly anywhere in the city, and most often on its beaches. When I lived in Bombay, the kulfi would be sold by vendors wandering the neighborhoods, almost invariably outfitted in a white lehenga-kurta with a white Nehru cap, balancing wicker baskets atop their heads. Kulfi-o-kulfi, they'd call, and everyone, adult or child, would rush to the window. Inside the kufi wallah's wicker basket, nestled in damp red fabric, would be an earthen pot filled with ice and salt to keep the kulfis, still in their little conical metal molds, very, very cold. The flavors were incredible: pista (pistachio), kesar-elaichi (saffron and cardamom), malai (cream), rose, vanilla, and even plain milk kulfi. No matter how much you ate, or how often, you always wanted more.
When you asked for one, the kulfi wallah would rub the mold between his palms to warm it up. Then he'd slide out the kulfi, usually on a fresh, green leaf, and cut it into pieces before serving it up to your impatient hands. Or. if you were so inclined, he would pierce it on a stick and you could eat it like a popsicle.
It would be easy for someone not used to a kulfi to imagine it to be something like an ice cream, but the flavor is really very different. A kulfi is not churned, the way ice cream is, so it has a creamier, denser texture that's absolutely marvelous. Kulfi is made, in fact, by reducing milk and adding thickeners and flavors to it, and then freezing it in molds.
My Mango Kulfi is creamy and delicious with cashew nuts: a great nut to substitute for dairy in almost any dessert or other dish. And it is so good that even if you're not a vegan, you'll never want to go back to the dairy-based version again. Even better, it does not require any cooking or reduction or thickeners. All you need to do is put the ingredients in a blender, blend it all up, pour it into popsicle molds and freeze. That's all. Little work for lots of deliciousness.
I used mango as the flavoring because it is, hands down, my favorite flavor in just about any Indian sweet, but you could try this with other fruits, if you'd rather (although I can't imagine why you'd not want to go the mango route). Trust me, you'll want dessert every day.
Six Ingredients for Vegan Mango Kulfi Popsicles:
- Mango puree. You can make your own with ripe, sweet mangoes or use the canned kind (I love using Indian Alphonso mango puree which is golden and delicious).
- Nondairy milk. I use cashew or almond to make the kulfi creamier.
- Cashew nuts. If you can't use nuts for any reason, you can substitute with more nondairy milk. Your mango kulfi won't be as creamy, but it'll be tasty.
- Sugar. Add as you go, until you've reached the desired sweetness. It really depends on how sweet your mangoes -- or puree -- are.
- Cardamom. This can be optional, but a good kulfi really needs the sweet fragrance of cardamom, so try and use it.
- Vanilla. The vanilla adds a mellow sweetness that rounds out the flavors of the kulfi perfectly.
Make the Vegan Mango Kulfi Popsicles:
- Everything comes together in the blender, so it isn't a lot of work, but make sure that you blend everything really, really smooth. Even with a high-powered blender, I like soaking the cashew nuts for 30 minutes to ensure they blend up really smooth. Smooth and creamy are the keywords to keep in mind when you make a kulfi.
- Don't add all of the sugar at once. Blend in a little at a time until you reach as much sweetness as you desire. I sometimes need less than half a cup and sometimes more.
- The mixture will be thick, but that's how you want it. Make sure you tap the mold a few times on the countertop to get any air bubbles that may have been trapped in the mango kulfi mixture out.
- Be sure to freeze at least eight hours before you unmold, or preferably overnight.
More recipes to try from the blog:
- Vegan Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting
- Aam ka Panna, a green mango cooler
- Vegan Mango Lassi
- Vegan Mango Curry
- And check this post for 66 kid friendly vegan recipes.
Vegan Mango Kulfi Popsicles
- 1 cup cashews
- ¾ cup almond milk (or any nondairy milk)
- 2 ½ cups mango puree (use either canned or puree fresh mangoes)
- 1 tsp cardamom powder use the black seeds of the green cardamom only
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar (use more or less depending on how sweet your mangoes are)
- Soak the cashews in water for about 30 minutes, then drain
- Add all of the ingredients to the blender and blend until very, very smooth.
- Pour into popsicle molds, pierce each popsicle with a popsicle stick, and freeze.
- To unmold, dip the popsicle mold in slightly warm water, pop out the popsicle, and enjoy.