Slurping frozen delights, Julie Merin Varughese trips on mami’s filter kapi and earl green tea. Spoilt for choice and loving it, foodies in Chennai are ecstatic

Long before coffee shops and pizza outlets dotted the city, ice cream parlours served as a haunt for the young and old, alike.

Old-timers will talk of a time when Jaffer’s outside Elphinstone theare on Mount Road was a favourite with Chennaiites. School teacher Chandra Sivakumar recalls frequenting the place as a 7-year-old in the 1970s.

“My uncle would take us cousins to Jaffer’s for a treat every time he came to Chennai on a holiday. Back then, Mount Road was not as crowded and we would go there late in the evenings,” Chandra says. “My loyalty to pista and butterscotch flavours probably began at Jaffer’s,” she says. 

Jaffer’s downed shutters a long time ago but the city is now home to a host of speciality ice cream outlets. Moving away from traditional favourites like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, they offer a plethora of flavours to cater to the adventurous foodie in every Chennaiite.

“More people have begun to travel abroad and this has resulted in exposure to varied cuisine,” says Deepak Suresh, owner of Amadora, which specializes in gourmet ice cream. So what’s new on the flavour front? “Salted caramel, earl green tea and mami's filter kaapi. The response to these flavours has been so amazing that people keep coming back for more,” says Deepak.

And it is not just the unique taste that has people hooked. Many customers like the fact that they can control what goes into their ice cream. “People are becoming more health conscious and though they like to dig into an ice cream, they prefer it with low fat or soy milk with brown or diet sugar,” says Gopal Krishnan, who along with wife Avanthi Vissa set up Bellaria in December last year. The store does not stock ice creams, instead whips them up on the spot as per customers’ orders.

At Cream & Fudge, toppings like dry fruits, honey and brownies are pounded into the ice cream on a ‘cold marble stone’. “This way, favourite toppings stay with you till the last spoon of ice cream melts in your mouth,” says Indra Karki, the manager of the outlet.

And sure enough, no one’s complaining. “Simply watching them prepare the ice cream and scoop it into a bowl is a treat. Coming here with friends is a special outing for me,” says Kamakshi Saptarishi, a final year Sociology student of M.O.P. Vaishnav College.

Most stores ensure quality ingredients are used so that customers get a distinct taste and come back for more. “We source vanilla beans from Kerala and strawberries from a farm in Sri Lanka,” says Deepak.

Spoilt for choice and loving it, foodies in Chennai are ecstatic. “I love trying out new items on the menu and the fact that I can opt for a low-fat alternative saves me from the guilt trip,” says Meera Balaji, a homemaker.

There is also the option of creating your own flavours. “Once, we blended gulab jamun with milk and spread it on the freeze plate to create an ice cream out of the popular Indian dessert. The customer was impressed with the result,” says Gopal.

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