A family feeling for ice

How Kuremal Kulfi, a fourth-generation business in Delhi, celebrated for its traditional and inventive kulfi flavours, expanded from a humble one-room set-up to a citywide presence
Oldest outlet of Kuremal Kulfi in Chawri Bazar
Oldest outlet of Kuremal Kulfi in Chawri Bazar

Delhi is known for its ever-changing foodscapes. Some days, a girl selling vada pav makes the news through viral videos. Other days, court cases are filed to determine the city’s authentic butter chicken or momo seller. However, some things have remained constant, rooted in traditions from even before independence. One such cherished business is Kuremal Kulfi, which started from a one-room set-up in Old Delhi.

Dreaming big

Started by Kirorimal Mohanlal, an 11-year-old from a farming family in Jhajjar village, Haryana, this family business is now managed by its fourth generation. During the peak summer of 1906, Kirorimal decided to tap into the urban market and make it big in the capital city. “He already knew about dairy products and how to make rabri.

His uncle taught him how to freeze it and turn it into kulfi,” says Anil Sharma, one of his grandsons, who now looks after the Old Delhi shop. Kirorimal travelled with the kulfis in a matka filled with salt and ice slabs to maintain a low temperature and started selling them in Delhi.

In 1940, Kirorimal, along with his son Mohanlal, opened their first outlet in Chawri Bazar. The name ‘Kirorimal’ soon became ‘Kuremal’. By 1960, Kuremal had become a brand, managed by Mohanlal and his brother Mahavir Prasad. Under Mohanlal’s leadership, a new variety was introduced: the stuffed kulfi.

“People wanted something new, something different, so he stuffed the fruit with frozen rabri kulfi. But on some days, the milk would go bad, or there was a shortage of milk during the summers, so he would make water-based kulfis,” Sharma tells

The innovation of water-based kulfi later led to the creation of sorbets or the newly branded vegan kulfis. Sorbets are frozen desserts made by combining ice and fruit juice or puree. However, Mohanlal was not familiar with this concept; for him, it was a solution to the milk shortage. “Who knew that something he created as an experiment would lay the foundation of what Kuremal Kulfi would be known for in the years to come,” says Sharma.

New flavours in the menu

By 1980, the third generation had taken over. Sunil Sharma and his brother Anil Sharma are from Mohanlal’s line, and Lalit Sharma and Manoj Sharma from Mahavir Prasad’s side of the family. One runs Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale and the other, Kuremal Mahavir Prasad Kulfiwale. Despite the division, there is no bad blood in the Kuremal family, says the storekeeper of Kuremal Mahavir Prasad Kulfiwale, who has been working at their Old Delhi outlet for over 30 years. Every year during Ramleela, both families set up their shops near Lal Qila’s Ramleela Ground and compete for the most sales; their business rivalry has never affected their family relations, he adds.

With the fourth generation taking over, Kuremal Kulfi expanded beyond the narrow lanes of Old Delhi and became more accessible. Out of the 13 outlets in Delhi, eight outlets are owned by the Mohanlal group and the Mahavir Prasad group owns five. “With time, we expanded and also saw a rising demand for new flavours. So, we kept adding flavours to our menu,” says Sharma. Among the new additions, jamun sorbet and falsa sorbet, known as julpeps or vegan kulfis, are popular. Other additions are the coffee and fruit-roller kulfi and the sugar-free option of the classic rabri kulfi. As times demand, Kuremal Kulfi is also available for online delivery and is on Swiggy, guaranteeing a “no melting policy for two hours”.

Delhiites’ favourite

Among the many fans of Kuremal Kulfi, Abhishek Rai, 43, who owns a small espresso and sandwich shop in Shahpur Jat, shares his experience of tasting Kuremal’s sorbets.

“Since I am in the food industry, I keep an eye out for different products and take inspiration. I wanted to introduce different kinds of jams, but I did not want to go for a strawberry jam. Rather, I wanted to go for something that suits the Indian palate,” he says.

On the recommendation of one of his friends, Rai tried the sorbets at Kuremal Kulfi’s Hauz Khas outlet, and ever since he has been a fan. “It was about six months ago that I noticed an outlet near my place and went there and saw a falsa sorbet. I tried it, and it blew my mind,” he says. Since then, he has recommended it to many of his customers. “The masala they sprinkle over the sorbet is a cherry on top. You won’t find something like that anywhere else,” he says.

Himanshu Ganjoo, 31, a physicist currently living in the US, makes sure to visit Kuremal every time he is back in Delhi. Growing up in the city, food has always fascinated him, and in one such hunt for food, he stumbled upon the kulfi shop. “I even introduced my friends and my parents to it. They all loved it as does my mother-in-law,” he says. His love for kulfi led him and his family to include Kuremal catering at his wedding reception in January 2023.

Sharma says that they have catered for many weddings, including the Ambanis at Isha Ambani’s wedding in 2018. “We have also catered for Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, and served our kulfis to Sonu Sood, Jacqueline Fernandes, and many other big names from the film industry,” he says. What keeps their fanbase going? The consistency in taste. Though new flavours have been introduced, the process remains the same old method of using ice, salt, and natural fruits.

The traditional method of not using anything processed is why Sharma proudly says, “Kaatenge fal, nikalegi kulfi, ye hai Kuremal Kulfi. Kulfi kulfi hoti hai, kulfi ice cream nahi hoti (Cut a fruit open, get a kulfi. This is Kuremal Kulfi. fi is kulfi, not ice cream)!”

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