Recently, we took the kids to N2 Extreme Gelato, where your ice-cream is made right before your eyes thanks to N2 i.e. liquid nitrogen. While the kids were enthralled by the smoke and mirrors, I found myself yearning for a slice of good ol’ Indian kulfi.
When I was little and we still lived in my Nana’s house, a once-a-week treat after dinner was kulfi. We prayed the Rosary together at 8.30pm and then sat down to dinner – all the while straining our ears for the kulfiwalla’s cries.
“Kul-pee-oo!” he’d call out, making his way round our neighbourhood, his basket perched on his head. Households assembled on their front steps with correct change. You’d get two sizes – big (Re.1) or small (50 paise), and two flavours: malai or pista (not that a single pistachio ever went into it, mind you – just an overdose of green food colouring!). The tin cones would be dipped into water to loosen the kulfi within, and out it would pop. Placed on a leaf and cut into bite-sized chunks before your eyes. Chop-chop-chop. Yummy in the tummy! Sweet dreams!!
Pail ice cream – everything else pales in comparison!
Have you ever tasted “pail ice-cream”? At least, that’s what our family called it.
A Bandra Feast Sunday tradition at Nana Evelyn’s house was making –and eating – pail ice-cream. After a full Bandra Feast spread of East Indian sorpotel, pickled chop chicken curry, potato chops, pork vindaloo, tongue moile, pea pulao and fugiyas, you always made sure you had place for the piece de resistance – pail ice-cream – tastier still because your time and toil had gone into its creation.
The evening before, we would bring down the old wooden ice-cream pail from the loft. And once the Pereira Clan had wished each other “Happy Feast!”, we would get down to the business of making pail ice-cream. The old bathroom at the back was transformed into our ice-creamery. The “big cousins” went down to Ice Factory Lane to haul in – what else? – a hunk of ice. I have no idea what the street’s real name is; everyone called it that. Once the ice was smashed into chunks, rock salt was added to lower the temperature even further. This was packed into the outer shell of the wooden vat. The aunts would measure out the ingredients – milk, sugar, cardamom, etc. etc. all poured into the inner metal container.
Each of the 20 cousins would have a go at churning the contents within. Being the third youngest of the gang, I was allowed a token round to appease me. After what seemed like h-o-u-r-s of manual labour, the handle would turn no more. And that’s when you knew the ice-cream had set. And not a minute too soon! Shares were doled out and second rounds were demanded until it was swiped clean. A feast fit for Bandra Feast!
So tell me, have you ever tasted pail ice-cream? Or tried making ice-cream from scratch? What’s your favourite flavour?