“Kulfi malai chaiiiiii ” for most of us middle-aged human beings, this call was quite a similar one. During childhood, there used to be one Kulfi malai wala familiar to almost every household and he used to carry that typical round box (wrapped in red cloth) filled with crushed ice packed happiness. Yes, Kulfi is thy name. In those days, getting one ice cream was not that easy and thus, kulfi came as a savior. But that kid has grown up today (or so he thinks) and this blog post will talk about my favorite Kulfi in Kolkata.
Can we call Kulfi as one of the old desserts from the Indian subcontinent? Probably yes. I was going through one article in Wikipedia and it actually vetted my belief. Like many a good thing, Kulfi has come from Persian “Qulfi”, meaning covered cup. During the Mughal empire in the 16th century, ice used to be brought from the Hindukush range for emperor Babar. And apart from making sherbet, it was used for Kulfi as well. Paired with dry fruits, pistachio rose petals etc, The detailed recipe and process is documented duly in the cult book Ain-e-Aqbari. Kulfi was one hell of a popular dessert during those days. And to date, it’s pretty popular here, as well as in the entire Indian subcontinent.
Vardaan market is in Central Kolkata- Camac St. You can check the location here on Google maps. And surrounding the market, a jaw-dropping line-up of vegetarian food stalls have come up in the last two decades. Starting from the Victoria Bara to chaats to veg pizza and even a vegetarian counter for momo, its one hell of a vegetarian food paradise. Shibuji is an extremely popular joint here serving some great sandwich, ice gola and soda shikanji, among other items. They also serve some damn good Kulfi too, but there is a basic problem. It runs out too fast. And one such day, when I was hell-bent on treating my family with Kulfi, and Shibuji’s stock was over, I found this gentleman.
However, you can have a look at Shibuji in the Foodka video here
The kulfi-wala at Vardaan market
This kulfi-wala sits near the exit-gate of the Vardaan market basement parking, on the pavement. It’s my bad that the person is not that open to chat and hence, I couldn’t even come out with his name. But I guess, the pictures will do …
Whole fruit Kulfi
Whether he is outspoken or not, he is damn good at his work. He prepares multiple varieties of Kulfi and basically fruit kulfi. He basically scoops out the fruit pulp and thickens the milk with it. for mango and orange, he then actually outs back the mixture inside the outer skin of the fruit. the top is sealed with dry ice and the broken piece of an earthen cup. Once ordered for the Kulfi, the earthen seal is broken, dry ice is scrapped and the whole thing is cut into slices.
As I was telling, Mango Kulfi is served as one whole mango cut into thick slices. And its priced at 70/- a piece. He won’t give you a spoon to eat it. Rather you’re expected to hold a Kulfi slice and eat the inside. Needless to say, mixed with the mango pulp, the kulfi is amazing. But please remember, the taste of the mango varies seasonally.
The next beauty is Orange Kulfi. It’s prepared in the same way and is priced at 60/- a piece. Orange is scooped out and the processed mixture is put inside. Now frankly, I am not very sure how they manage to cook the milk with this citrus fruit, but what the heck? It’s more like a frozen version of our homemade Komlalebur payesh. Please don’t kill me. this description is given by my dear wife.
Litchi and Sitafal
I am saving the best for the last. I am an ardent lover of the king of fruits- mango. But here, the litchi Kulfi any day beats its Mango counterpart. Priced at 40/- a piece, one can find actual tiny pieces of litchi in the kulfi and that makes the difference. Sitafal is not really my favorite, but wifey certified for the taste. I can safely say that one should start with mango or orange Kulfi and then have one litchi/ Sitafal Kulfi to understand the difference.
For Kesar Kulfi
I’ve tasted the Kesar Kulfi here but frankly didn’t find it worthy enough to be mentioned. Taste is a subjective matter and varies from person to person. But still, I’d prefer the small hole-in-the-wall Kulfi-wala opposite SBI Burrazar over any other place, that I’ve tasted in Kolkata.
Please check the details here, in this blog post below
All said and done, I still think that Kulfi in Kolkata didn’t get the due respect and recognition that it was supposed to get. But as long as people love it, who cares … This gentleman near the Vardaan market is definitely one of my favorite Kulfi-wala for fruit kulfi and if you want to share your favorite, please comment below …
Comments and critics welcome !!!
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