In Indian kitchens, mangoes are sacred. We wait all year for the ripest fruit, relishing it from seed to peel. You’ll find high praise for mangoes in the Vedas and Valmiki’s Ramayana, two early Hindu scriptures, but the most delightful story is that of Kamdev, the Indian cupid who shot arrows of mango blossom at gods and humans. Mythological stories aside, the most celebratory part of this golden fruit is how it moves from a sour pickle to a spicy sabzi and a sweet dessert, all with the grace of a kathak dancer’s wrists.
Pulissery refers to a south Indian variety of curry made with spiced buttermilk and a coconut base. Here, the cooling pulissery transforms into a dandelion yellow curry, with the addition of ripe baby mangoes, and is gently tempered with fragrant coconut oil, curry leaves and spices. Serve warm but not too hot with red matta rice.
Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
90g fresh grated coconut
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 ripe badami or baby mangoes, peeled
Salt, to taste
2 tsp red chilli powder
Paste of 1 green chilli
8-10 curry leaves
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 dried red chillies
In a blender, grind the coconut and cumin seeds. Add three to five tablespoons of water to smoothen the mixture, then set aside.
Put the mangoes in a heavy-bottomed pan and season with salt and chilli powder. Add the chilli paste, four to five curry leaves and enough water to cover the mangoes. Add the turmeric then cook, covered, on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
Once most of the water has evaporated and the mangoes have softened, add the coconut paste and cook for another four to five minutes. Add the yoghurt and mix well, then remove from the heat. The sauce should gently coat the mango but not be too thin – the consistency of a pasta sauce. Be careful not to overcook it as the yoghurt may start to split.
Heat the coconut oil in a tempering pan, then add the fenugreek and mustard seeds, dry red chillies and remaining curry leaves. Once everything begins to crackle, pour it over the pulissery and stir. Serve with red matta rice.
Even before the Mughals influenced Indian cuisine around the 16th century, desserts made with evaporated milk were common in India. But it was their idea to flavour it with ingredients such as pistachio and saffron, and to create a frozen treat. And that’s how kulfi was born.
Prep 5 min
Cook 45 min
55ml condensed milk
Sugar, to taste (optional)
240ml full-fat cream
240ml fresh mango puree
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
8 saffron strands, diluted in 1 tbsp warm milk (optional)
1 tbsp pistachios and 1 tbsp almonds, slivered
Put the milk in a pan and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, until it thickens. Scrape any milk that solidifies on the side of the pan back in to the centre.
Add the condensed milk and sugar, if using, then, once the liquid has reduced by half, take it off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
Once cool, add the cream, mango puree, cardamom, saffron (if using), and stir until well combined. (You can use a handheld blender to introduce air into it.) Pour the mixture into kulfi moulds and freeze overnight. If you want the kulfi to be extra smooth, freeze it in an icebox, churn, then freeze again. Repeat this process three times, then pour the mixture into kulfi moulds and freeze.
To serve, de-mould the kulfi and garnish with pistachio and almond slivers.