Vegan Mango Kulfi

Saturday, November 05, 2016

This Diwali, the challenge was to create a totally vegan meal, from main course to dessert. Main course was easy enough to tackle. Most desserts, though, relied on cream or milk, at least the ones I loved ... like kheer and kulfi.

Now I already have a fab kulfi recipe ... rich, creamy and dreamy, laced with saffron and a hint of cardamom and you can see it hereBut of course, it wasn't vegan. Sure I could replace milk with a non dairy or nut milk easily. But it would be quite shallow (for want of a suitable word) and not 'rich' enough. Coconut cream? naaahh ... too overpowering. After scouring online for ideas, I came across a superb ingredient to lend this kulfi a velvety texture it needed ... cashew!

Yep, raw cashews are a vegan godsend. It makes a great cream substitute for cooking, you can do a cheese sauce with it (with the right combination of spices) ... heck, it even makes ice cream! So yes, cashews will do. And it performed marvelously. Soaked cashews, when blended, lent this kulfi the structure, the creaminess and richness it needed. And because it was laden with mango purée, you couldn't really tell. It was so freaking awesome! Score for a dessert veganized!

1 cup raw cashews
1-1/2 cups boiling water
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup almond milk
1-1/2 cups almond milk
5-6 saffron strands
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups mango purée
Sugar, to taste
Pinch of salt

1. In a small bowl or a mug, soak cashews in boiling water. Set aside.
2. In another small bowl or mug, dissolve the cornstarch in cool or cold 1/2 cup almond milk. If it starts to settle on the bottom, just stir again.

3. In a large saucepan, place the 1-1/2 cup almond milk, saffron, and cardamom, and bring to a simmer to release the flavours.
4. Add the mango purée, the stirred cornstarch mixture, and the soaked cashews along with the soaking water, to the saucepan and bring to an almost boil.
5. Turn off the heat and either use an immersion blender on the saucepan or place the liquid into a blender. Very carefully!
6. Taste for sweetness, adjust if necessary, then add a pinch of salt.
Because the can of mango purée was already sweetened I didn't add any sugar at all.
You may want to blend again after adding sugar.
7. Pour into kulfi or popsicle molds, then freeze.

To serve, sprinkle chopped pistachios or slivered almonds on top.

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