On a kulfi trail in Big Apple: Kulfi pops, the Indian dessert is taking New York City by storm

Kulfi pops
Kulfi pops, introduced by Junoon NYC, a Michelin starred luxe Indian diner in New York City. Image via Instagram

From Indian fine diners to shops in alleys across Brooklyn, the quintessential Indian kulfi is the new ‘it’ dessert Americans can’t seem to have enough of.

Move over Ube ice cream and charcoal soft serves, the summer ice cream trend that is wooing the New Yorkers is the very desi Indian kulfi — albeit with a contemporary name, kulfi pops. A common Indian summer quencher, anybody who has spent some time in India would be familiar with this milk and sugar-laden chilled pops. And if you haven’t had a stick malai kulfi, or the kulfi falooda drizzled sometimes with roohafza sorbet in the north of India, then perhaps you haven’t spent a meaningful summer in India.

But now the ubiquitous Indian street side dessert is getting a gourmand makeover and travelling across the posh diners to hipster neighborhoods in New York.

Junoon NYC, a Michelin starred luxe Indian diner in New York City, has introduced the very delectable kulfi pops. While the chefs at Junoon have given it an American relatable quality by naming their neo-Indian dessert kulfi pops, interestingly the flavors give a nod to the Indian tradition of kulfis. So you can choose from a pan, or rose petal-flavored kulfi to mango or saffron-cardamom to roohafza rabri pops.

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If you want to get a taste of your Indian nostalgia, you don’t have to go to stiff lipped Upper East Side diners. Different varieties are also available elsewhere in Big Apple.

The Indian confection made of condensed milk and sugar is also available in Queens at a Pakistani kulfi bar with the name of Al Naimat. Here you can order kulfi with falooda, vermicelli-shaped noodles in flavors such as rose.

Intrigued and keen on delving deeper into the complex Indian dessert flavors? At Malai Ice Cream in Brooklyn, you can further get a taste of Indian flavors such as chai and turmeric.

Once you have familiarized yourself with the non-ice shaving version of the fluffy Indian milk treat, now is the time for some original offerings without any big city frills. At Babuji’s, the nostalgia Indian restaurant that came up in Union Street a couple of years ago, you can satiate yourself with kulfi frozen in tin conical cones, exactly the way, an Indian granddad or grand mom would have brought for you. Here the kulfi is made of thick buffalo milk for the right taste and texture and simmered for six hours before adding slivers of pistachios – just the way the mohalla halwais (neighborhood sweet makers) have been making for generations in India.

Enjoy a stick of kulfi and you may think you are in Mumbai not Manhattan.

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At Kensington in Brooklyn, many immigrants brought along with them their treasured recipes and the result is a cultural smattering so stunning that you may need more than a visit to satiate yourself. At Shahi Kulfi you can order a pop in flavors like mango, rose, pistachio or mango. For about two bucks, it is the best summer slurp you would have. Here you would find a plenty of Indian bodega selling pakoras, samosas and, of course, the new New York favorite that is inviting more and more Americans – the kulfi pops.

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