This Dessert Brand In New York Is Redefining Ice Cream With Flavours From Indian Kitchen
Image Credit: Photo: Prachi Palwe

In India, kulfi is a frozen Indian dessert that is flavoured with cardamom, mango, rose, saffron, pistachios or almonds which are classics. It comes either on a stick or served with falooda then drizzled with a sweet syrup. 

Kulfis in the traditional form are also wooing Americans. In Vikas Khanna’s restaurant ‘Junoon’, kulfi is available along with a falooda shot or as it is. While Junoon is a Michelin-star restaurant that pays a tribute to kulfi, here are other ways kulfi is sold. 

In Brooklyn, kulfi pops are so common in neighbourhoods like Kensington. For instance, one of the bestselling kulfis is by a brand called shahi kulfi. The individual price is 60 to 70 INR, but on the brand’s website, every case containing around 70 kulfi bars sells for about an astounding price of 14,000 INRAmericans love these pre-packaged kulfis! While in India, kulfiwallas sell the frozen treat, after removing it from the tin cones, for anywhere between 20 to 40 INR! However, for Indians living in America, the texture and flavour of the original Indian kulfi are hard to replicate. That is why people like Pooja Bavishi are striving to bring their own creative spin to the world of Indian desserts by creating irresistible ice cream flavours inspired by authentic South Asian flavours which may appeal to Indians. 


Pooja Bavishi's brand which is known as ‘Malai’ sells its ice-cream selection that brings a taste of India to the western palate. However, the flavours are not akin to pistachio, rose, saffron or almonds, which represent the traditional Indian ice cream ‘kulfi’. Often, the ice-cream flavours are inspired by small moments which the owner, Pooja Bavishi, remembers fondly such as taking a sip from her parents’ cup of chai, or watching her mother cook with spices and feeling inspired by the aromatic whiff. She chose the blank canvas of ice cream to blend her memories with culture. She brings assorted flavours from South Asian cuisine such as gajar ka halwa, masala chai, sweet roti and ghee, tulsi chocolate chip, jaggery with tamarind caramel, chaat masala and pumpkin garam masala crumble to ice-creams and sorbets. There are also reinventions of waffles using Parle G Biscuits. 

What was also heard is that Pooja Bavishi launched a super-new flavour that celebrated the fact that Vice President Kamala Devi Harris has roots in India. The ice-cream flavour was coconut-mango with jaggery-candied lotus seeds, and it made headlines on social media for several months. Did you know that Kamala means lotus in Sanskrit? Yes — the use of lotus seeds is intentional.  

Just like you cannot call granita a sorbet, you may find that traditional Indian kulfis are not the same as ice-creams, as they have a bit of a grainier texture. 'Malai' makes no case for selling kulfis but rather claims that their desserts are inspired by the variety of south-Asian ingredients, growing-up experiences in India and the food culture.  

What’s your pick- kulfi or ice cream?