NEW YORK (PIX11) — It may be the best frozen dessert that you’ve never had. Homemade in many South Asian families, there’s now an effort to bring Kulfi to the mainstream ice cream community in New York and beyond.
Mansoor Ahmed, the founder of Heritage Kulfi, is taking his love of Kulfi and turning it into a business. A big part of that drive is diversity, even in the form of South Asian ice cream in the frozen section of your neighborhood stores.
“The best way I would describe it is as a South Asian style of ice cream, similar to how Gelato is often considered an Italian style,” said Ahmed. “It’s meant to be very decadent and filling, so it pairs very well with South Asian food.”
Heritage Kulfi has some not-so-typical ice cream flavors like saffron, cardamom chai, malai, and rosewater. Then again, Kulfi is not your typical ice cream.
“Ice cream is something that brings all of us so much joy,” said Ahmed. “Kulfi specifically is meant to be something a little emotional.”
Ahmed talks about Kulfi like it’s a passion because it is. So much so, he wants to take Kulfi out of South Asian food kitchens and into the mainstream.
Ahmed spent the COVID-19 shutdown experimenting with flavors and learning the commercial ice cream-making process — all from home. In late 2021, he was ready and launched Heritage Kulfi, paying homage to his upbringing in New York’s South Asian community.
“On one hand, it’s about being authentic and representing those ingredients I grew up with and wanting to share that,” said Ahmed. “On the other, it’s about bringing diversity to the ice cream section.”
Kulfi is nothing new; it originated in the 16th century, and in modern times, you’d find it in popsicle or block form. Families also make it at home. Part of Ahmed’s plan to take it mainstream is to package it in pints.
“For me, it’s very nostalgic because as a little kid, I would remember my mom, my family members would come around and we would [make] it together,” said Ahmed.
What sets Kulfi apart from ice cream is its process. It’s slow-cooked and cooled, yielding a dense and creamy texture.
Ahmed has created 10 flavors, from distinctive to traditional. Heritage Kulfi is sold in specialty markets in New York, like Kalustyans’ where PIX11 News met him for a taste test. He’s expanding distribution along the East Coast and ultimately wants to take it national. He’s also working on a vegan line, with four to five additional flavors.
“We’re a local small business,” said Ahmed. “We’re a certified minority-owned business and it’s really important for me to have roots working with independent retailers.”
One man’s nod to his heritage and his way of sharing it with all people.
You can find more information on Heritage Kulfi here.