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Scream for an ice cream

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ALL MINE! Ice creams are favorites with people of all age groups
ALL MINE! Ice creams are favorites with people of all age groups

Ice cream is hot these days. Replacing traditional desserts, its popularity is making ice cream parlours the new hangout spots for singles and families alike

Ice cream is hot! Summer or winter, it is in demand. Selling before melting, cones are being polished off in a jiffy, and scoops are being finished off in what is fast becoming a multi-billion dollar global industry. Not just in the upmarket hotels and restaurants. The age-old popular brands are selling their stuff after dusk too. Even the anonymous manufacturers are raking it in with ice creams.To give you an idea, here is this ice cream vendor, not far from the Jama Masjid in Delhi. He plies his stuff from a specially designed cart. A strawberry helping, one of mango. That is all he sells. But his big containers get emptied in a couple of hours in summers. In winters, he adds almonds to his creations and still manages to do a healthy business. Why? Because everybody loves a good ice cream. At his improvised cart, as indeed at the elegant tables of five-star hotels, people often ask for another helping. "A couple of scoops, please" is often heard in big hotels and restaurants as guests, through with their food, shyly want to change the taste in their mouth with ice cream, soft, tangy, flavoured.Long gone are the days when the dessert meant a hot steaming gulab jamun or a gajar ka halwa. Or even shahi tukra. Some go in for custard. More, however, are happy with an ice cream. In fact, some guests, believe it or not, even round off a cappuccino session with a chocolate flavoured scoop of ice cream!

Vanilla rules

Today, there is a variety on offer for this innocent indulgence. There are scores of brands and hundreds of flavours available off the shelf in metropolitan India, be it Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or Chennai. Vanilla is the most popular flavour, followed by chocolate and strawberry. So, who started licking cream iced to perfection? There are many versions but most believe Julius Caesar and the Emperor Nero of Rome were the first ones to mix snow with nectar, fruit pulp and honey. There is another school of thought about the birth of ice cream though. They believe that Marco Polo brought to rest of the world the recipes for water ices from the Far East.And surprisingly, at a time when the youngsters are feasting on pizzas and risottos, here is an eye-opener. As a frozen food item, ice cream contains at least 10 per cent milk fat. And reduced fat ice cream contains at least 25 per cent less total fat than others. And low fat ice cream, still not so easily available in our country, contains a maximum of three grams of total fat per serving of half a cup. Little wonder coffee cafes are feeling the heat. Ice creams parlous are really the new hanging out joints for singles, kids and families. And ice cream remains the best way to polish off a healthy meal. But just in case, you are calling guests over to your place, here is a timely recipe that will make sure your guests lick off the last drop:

Almond-pista kulfi

Ingredients2 cups condensed milk
1tsp ground cardamom
1cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup ground rice to taste
2 cups sugar
Double cream
1tsp vanilla or almond essence
1/4 unsalted pistachio nuts MethodWarm the condensed milk over a medium heated water pan. Remove from heat and add ground cardamom. Meanwhile, make a smooth paste by slowly adding the ground almonds and rice to the lukewarm milk, stirring continuously. Add the paste, sugar and cream to the condensed milk. Cook over a medium flame for 15 minutes, stirring all the time. When the mixture has cooled slightly, add the vanilla essence. Crush the pistachio nuts and mix in half of them. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Cover the mixture with a cling film, allowing it to touch the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin forming on the top. Place the cooled mixture in individual moulds or a loaf tin, and put it in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Move the Kulfi to a refrigerator for about one and a half hours to soften (the exact time will depend on the size of the container). To serve, scatter the remaining crushed pistachio nuts over the portions.(The author is Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza. He can be emailed at chefrk@crowneplazadelhi.com)

RAKESH KUMAR

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