Gobbling down a large scoop of this pale green ice cream, somehow I think of packets of kumkum at temples and a bride’s elaborately decorated braid. Imagine having the strange fragrance of this peculiar flower thazhampoo in your ice cream. Sounds bizarre or hilarious? But this is what I treated myself to recently at the Scoofi ice cream parlour in town. And believe me, after a few bites the idea didn’t seem weird any more. “It’s the initial shock that adds to the experience. Wacky and unusual flavours are becoming a big trend among ice cream lovers the world over. Ice creams are getting experimental with scents of flowers, flavours of your favourite recipes and comfort food. It’s no more about the select few flavours and a limited range,” says Prabaharan Venugopal, partner of the store.
Vichitra Rajasingh, CEO of Puppy’s Ice creams, concurs, “ The way people eat ice creams is changing. For instance, I make my own ice cream. It’s no more an occasional thing. Ice cream eating though dips during winters in traditional markets like Madurai, it has boomed into a separate culinary indulgence. People want flavours to hit and make them come back for more.” That’s how she introduced bournvita and horlicks ice creams that take you back to childhood. “A lot of us have grown up on these health drinks and the flavours are nostalgic. Even adults apart from kids also enjoy these flavours.”
“Since the base ingredients (milk, sugar and butter fat) of any ice cream are the same, it’s easier to experiment,” says Rajasingh. “When the red velvet cake became popular after the Malayalam movie Premam, we introduced it in ice cream as well. The cake sponge along with signature cream cheese frosting that gives the sour flavour to the red velvet cake, was whipped into the ice cream. It’s a hit among our young customers. Likewise, the peanut butter ice cream goes well among the gym going crowd.”
“We are introducing flavours that make people think and identify with. Few people took a liking to the thazhampoo flavour, while many loved our panipuri ice cream,” says Venugopal. “Since, panipuri is a popular street food, we thought of infusing the tangy spicy flavour of the pani in ice creams.” The ice cream is also served in typically crunchy puris to give an authentic feel. When the puri crumbles into your mouth, it’s a cold explosion of flavours that really gives you a jhatka.
Scoofi has also come up with a masalachai flavour in kulfi. From the colour to the taste, the kulfi retains the essence of a strong masala tea. “We have blended fine particles of ginger and cardamom to give a grainy texture and an earthy flavour to the kulfi,” says Venugopal.
LiquiDzz has a Kambu Halwa ice cream on its menu. “Ice creams are usually an impulsive take. As people are becoming more health conscious, we wanted to give a health angle to ice creams. We added a millet based dessert like halwa with a basic flavour ice cream like vanilla or butterscotch,” says Deepak Gunalan. “So that, it’s not necessarily a guilty indulgence any more.”
Apart from completely wacky flavours, people are also giving twists to popular numbers in ice creams. Like the Palgova and Rasmalai have been made to resemble the Spanish dessert made of caramelised milk dulche de leche. And the chilli ice cream has been tweaked at Puppy’s with an unmistakable tinge of capsicum flavour. “We call it chilli pepper as the spice is subtle and strong but not intense. It doesn’t burn like pure chilli, but gives a minimal sting and customers like it,” says Rajasingh. “We manufacture only 15 to 20 litres of different flavours and keep cycling between common and uncommon flavours.”
Mint Chocolate chip and Rose pistachio has also undergone refinements to taste differently. Fruits of the forest with blueberry, cranberry and sour cherry and blue moon are some rare flavours at Puppy’s. “We also had a Scotch whisky flavour which we discontinued as very few people took to it. It was due to the misconception that it had actual whisky, but we only add the extracts and the flavour remains. It was a hit and miss as scotch is an acquired taste,” says Rajasingh. “Beer, wine and weed flavoured ice creams are getting trendy in big cities,” she adds.
And ice cream need not be always a scoop, as even the form in which it’s served is undergoing innovations. Puppy’s serves a ice cream concoction called Cremaccino, a thick warm ice cream drink. “Since, one in the group is always sniffing, we wanted to cater to them. Often people blame ice creams for a common cold and so we have come up with cremaccino, where a scoop of the ice cream is mixed with little milk and warmed up. It makes a delicious, lukewarm and soothing and gives you a full fuzzy feeling. Chocolate and coffee flavours are much preferred for cremaccinos,” says Rajasingh.