Kesar Kulfi Recipe – Indian Ice Cream with Saffron. Vegan Glutenfree



Color me Saffron I say.

Kulfi is one of those things that everyone in my house loves. We has our favorite Kulfi wala(Kulfi cart pushed by the seller), who would roam the streets in the summer heat and hand out kulfis. Our Pomeranian would alert us to the presence of the cart in the neighborhood, coz she would get a small kulfi everytime we bought some too.

The Kulfi Wala’s Kulfi has a distinct saffron taste, was quite salty and was thickened with some starch, most likely arrowroot. Most other Kulfi served in the restaurants have similar versions, some with nuts like Pistachios added, some with other flavors like cardamom or rose or mango and so on.

This post is about Kesar(Saffron) Kulfi, unchurned Indian Ice cream with loads of Saffron. No Ice cream maker needed!

This version has Coconut milk, some cashew flour, cornstarch, sugar syrup and saffron. I also made this with half almond milk and half coconut for a batch and added some coarsely ground pistachios in another one for variations. I made the first batch 2 days into my parents visit and Dad has been asking for some every other day ;). It was so creamy that he thought it was made with condensed milk. The batch with half almond and half coconut milk has almost no coconut milk taste, which was Mom’s favorite. Mom will make the next batch so she remembers the recipe :)

Below, One of the batches with a little less Saffron and more nuts. 

Kulfi is usually made with evaporated or condensed milk and kept unwhipped leading to a dense Ice Cream. It is also frozen at a higher temperature than in the refrigerator. The molds kept in an Ice salt mixture in an earthen pot, freeze to the just the right dense but still soft ice cream. When frozen in the refrigerator, the Kulfi will need a minute or so outside to get into the softer state. The time will depend on the fat and nut content in Kulfi.

You can add dried fruits to the Kulfi too. Some fresh fruit puree like strawberry can be added to to the sugar to make the syrup for a strawberry Kulfi. How do you like your Kulfi?

More Kulfis like this Pistachio Almond Kulfi and Indian desserts here

I have been nominated for Indian Blogger Awards 2013 here. Please do drop me a recommendation :) Thanks! 


Soak Saffron in water, then add sugar and bring to a bubbling boil.

Add coconut milk, cashew flour, cornstarch and mix well. Bring to a boil, then take off heat.

Add milks( nuts, dried fruit, other additions). Mix well.

Pour into pop molds or bowls or square ice cube tray. 

I used a shot glass for the kulfi in the pictures:). The usual Kulfi mold is long and conical, like some popsicle molds. Since I dont have any proper Ice cream molds, I have to wait for the kulfi to soften to pop it out. Hence, the melty Kulfi. 

Kesar Kulfi – Indian Ice Cream with Saffron
Free of Dairy, egg, soy, gluten, yeast, starch. Can be made corn-free

3 Tablespoons water
1/3 cup ground raw sugar (1/2 cup for sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands (less or more to taste)
a generous pinch of cardamom 

1 can full fat Coconut milk(13.5 oz) (Or use 1/2 can coconut milk, and 3/4 cup almond or other non dairy milk)
1/3 cup ground raw cashews(1/2 cup for thicker. Or use pistachio or walnut or a combination of the nuts)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

In pan, add the water and saffron and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the sugar and mix. Keep stirring in between and bring the mixture to a bubbling boil on medium heat. 
Meanwhile, In another bowl, mix the cashews, cornstarch with 1/2 cup coconut milk and keep ready.
Add this to the boiling sugar syrup. Add cardamom and salt and bring to a boil.
Take off heat.
Add the rest of the milk and mix well. Taste and adjust sugar and salt. 
Add nuts or dried fruits if using at this point and fold into the creamy mix.
Pour into kulfi molds or pop molds or ice cube tray.
Freeze, pop out, top with coarsely chopped Pistachios and serve. 
You can also serve the Kulfi mixture chilled as Rabdi. Or add cooked rice or quinoa and simmer for 5 minutes. Chill for a few hours and serve as Kheer!

I grind raw cashews with a few Tablespoons of flour or Oats so that they grind well and dont become cashew butter too quickly.

This Kulfi is being shared at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, ricki’s wellness weekend.

Let's get social! Follow Richa on Facebook, InstagramTwitterPinterest, and Feedly.

Want More Delicious Recipes to Your Inbox?


  1. says

    That looks so creamy – I’ve so got to give it a try. I’m always put off making frozen puds because I don’t have a machine to make ice cream in, but if I can do this without any of the bother, I’m so in!

    • says

      with all the flavor going on, the coconut milk is not discernible at all. And i havent even boiled i, but it still tastes like condensed milk thick creamy kulfi :)

  2. says

    i used to love kulfi but because of lactose intolerant i stopped. this version is totally doable :) and congrats on the award. heading to recommend you. Good Luck dear.

    • says

      i know right. i dont have an ice cream maker becasue i never had space for one. Its on my to get list for so long. till then i am making loads of kulfi!

  3. says

    Hi Richa,
    This is an exceptional Kulfi. As a variation I used half coconut milk and soy creamer instead of Almond milk and it was so creamy and delicious. I could serve the whole mixture as a kheer too. Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • says

      you can grind the raw cashews or any nuts with wheat or Oat flour. about a 1/4 cup flour with about a cup of cashews for a less buttery/sticky flour. I usually just add abt a 1/4 cup oats while grinding, since oats have a less stronger taste compared to wheat and also are gluten-free

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi Richa,
    I am amazed at the simplicity of ingredients and method of making this kulfi!!
    before I start to make it, just wanted to know which kind of full fat coconut milk brands could be used? Thanks for sharing this wonderful easy recipe!

  5. Keerthana says

    Richa, You are genius! kulfi came out really good. Have added some orange puree and put it in an orange. Surprised my husband on vday and he was so happy. I hv tried so many recipes from your blog and they hv all come out good. Kudos! Thanks very much, Richa! Hugs!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>