Back home in Mumbai, Tamish Aswani and his parents, Henna and Dilip Aswani, would decorate their home with arrangements of flowers and candles to welcome Hindu’s biggest festival of the year, Deepavali or Diwali. Besides humbling themselves to the religious tradition of Puja prayer, many who celebrate Diwali would be busy cooking Indian comfort food for a family banquet or a hamper of homemade sweets to send to loved ones. “There are so many sweets!” said Henna, the mother and woman behind Masti Biryani & Kebabs’ delectable recipes. “There is gulab jamun (milk-based sweets with rose syrup), jalebi (flour-based treat with saffron) and of course kulfi, the easiest one.”
Made primarily with condensed milk and any fruit of choice, kulfi, the staple ice cream dessert is a common treat usually found along the streets of India. “Pistachio or strawberry kulfi is the most common one. But today we are making mango kulfi,” said Tamish, who will be launching the no-churn staple dessert as a seasonal complementary in Masti’s repertoire. “Mango brings good luck,” added Henna.
Once served, kulfi and an array of other Indian sweets are usually presented on a dessert tray adorned with mango leaves and colourful candles to epitomise the year’s festival of lights. “In Navratri celebrations, everything is also colourful,” shared Henna about the nine-day tradition where women would doll up in ethnic attires and draw their hands with jet-black henna.
As Indonesians of Indian descent, the Aswanis manifest their roots through their F&B venture where authentic Indian cuisine meets Indonesian palate. Among Masti’s menu, their classic Chicken Kebab with Cheese Naan is one of the main highlights, followed by their Butter Chicken and Mutton Biryani. “We try to bring as much honesty and authenticity to Jakarta’s dining scene when it comes to Indian cuisine,” shared Tamish, who launched Masti earlier this year. Today, the eatery has three outlets under their wing, delivering genuine staples of the family’s homeland to the city.
The business stemmed from their love for Indian comfort food, something that Henna always brings to the family’s dining table. A caterer, henna artist (hence her name) and freelance tutor, the matriarch juggled between cooking, drawing patterns on women’s hands and on fabrics when she studied textiles in her younger years. “I cook Indian cuisine for the most part, but I also make Indonesian food too,” she shared. With her flair in cooking, Henna became Masti’s arbiter who determines whether their products are ready for the market. “Everything you find in Masti is my mother’s take on the dishes, so it’s hard to emulate our recipes,” added Tamish.
Although Indian food is known for their rich spices and arduous cooking process, their traditional desserts bear much simpler techniques. In the case of kulfi, all it takes is a blender and ingredients one can grab in the nearest minimart and fruit store. “Many boil their milk to make kulfi at home, but why go through the hassle when you can just use condensed milk? It has the same texture and saves more time,” shared Henna while she concocted the treats.
Unbeknownst to many, a good rule of thumb to making kulfi is to have two slices of bread at the ready: “You put it in the blender with the other ingredients. It binds all the ingredients together to achieve the perfect density.” The result is a solid frozen dessert crowned with pistachios, badam (almond) and cashews, but if you’re on for a little bit of oomph, why not sprinkle a bit of ground cardamom for that final touch?
Be it having kulfi on pudding cups or popsicle style, the icy dessert is a fail-proof yet refreshing one that you can whip with your dearest ones for any occasion.
Kulfi is a traditional Indian dessert staple that can be served in cups or ice cream sticks. This easy recipe takes no more than twenty minutes to prep using a home kitchen blender, and serves 10 cups with 100 grams each.
- 450gr of fresh mango (about 2-3 ripe fruits)
- 1 can (400gr) of evaporated milk
- ½ can (200gr) of condensed milk
- 2 slices of bread (remove the crust)
- 20gr of chopped almonds and pistachios for garnish
- 50gr crushed cashew nuts
- 2gr of pure saffron
- Cardamom powder
- Wash and peel the mangoes before cutting them into cubes.
- Drop the mangoes into the blender, along with the evaporated milk, condensed milk, bread and saffron threads.
- Blend well for a few minutes until you reach a smooth and creamy consistency, resembling a thick smoothie.
- Carefully pour the mixture into the serving cups or popsicle molds.
- Garnish with finely chopped almonds and pistachios and a sprinkling of cardamom spice as desired.
- Chill in the freezer overnight and serve the kulfi cold for a refreshingly sweet treat the next day.