The controversy surrounding ‘frozen desserts’ prepared from vegetable oil masquerading as ice creams (essentially made from milk and dairy fats) has created a certain level of hesitation in the minds of diet-conscious folk about gorging on that delicious, frosty treat with gay abandon. This is understandable – for who would want to get unwittingly pumped with that fatty evil called dalda on an innocuous summer routine trip to the ice-cream store?
Thankfully, there still are a few honest souls out there who are not misleading their customers – tiny, quaint, homely ice-cream parlours who do not cut corners and who sell the real deal. Priced between Rs 25 to Rs 60 a scoop, these operations clearly do not need exorbitant prices to prove their mettle. This season, give the commercial brands a miss and get your licks and sips at these old-fashioned, family-run sweet spots.
Take, for instance, Mohan Ice Cream on JM Road, which sees a flurry of foragers – on a quest to nurse their collective sweet tooth – lined up outside its diminutive set-up every night. What you get here is rich, indulgent ice cream prepared fresh every day in their dairy on Sinhgad Road – the thick, creamy texture is a testimony to its authenticity. Try the pretty pink blob of gulkand ice cream that has a distinctly stimulating flavour owing to its muted sweetness. The malai one, on the other hand, made from pure condensed milk laden with bits of khoya that melt on your tongue with every spoonful, is all kinds of decadent. They also make kulfis and ‘cold milk’ in different flavours – the almond one is particularly velvety and sinful.
Over at Khatri Bandhu Pot Ice Cream, ice cream is made the traditional way – in wooden pots, by churning boiled milk and fresh fruits together without a drop of artificial flavour. The pocket-sized operation set up on Karve Road could have easily missed the public eye, if it were not for the throngs who gather here post dinner to get their share of the all-natural flavour. In the summers, it is as if the entire city has congregated here to beat the summer heat with a Khatri scoop! Try the strawberry, muskmelon, plum and fig flavours – fruity and absolutely refreshing. Mastani fans rejoice, for they also churn out innumerable glasses of that gorgeous ice-cream milkshake.
Popular Kolhapur ice cream joint, Rajmandir Ice Cream, forayed into Pune with an outlet in Kothrud just a couple of years ago, bringing along the popular ‘red peru’ (guava) ice cream to the city. The scoop comes with a dusting of red chilli powder and salt, which introduces an unusual (but exciting) salty-spicy dimension to the chilled sobremesa.
On the opposite end of the city, Meridian in Camp is a modest stall that has been serving patrons real ice cream for decades. They have even installed a huge notice board informing people that their products are strictly dairy-made. Go for the real alphonso mango scoop plonked in a warm, crispy waffle cone that they make fresh, right in front of you – you will not be disappointed. The place also dishes out slurp-worthy sundaes and ice-cream sodas.
Finally, there is always the ever-dependable Amul Ice Cream Parlour. Sit back, get a cup of the brownie blast swirled with cakey crumbs, or the gorgeous ‘caramel nut’ or perhaps the ‘pineapple delight’ that lives up to its name and then some – and savour the lingering taste of familiarity.