Food

Cocolicious: The icecream for vegans

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When V Aravindan and his family turned vegan, what they missed eating most was the icecream. So he decided to make his own

“We trialled the ice cream at my wedding,” grins Aravindan V. “We didn’t tell anyone what it was; just said natural ice cream with fruit flavours. But people loved it.” Aravindan is talking about Cocolicious, his brand of vegan ice cream made of coconut milk.

When Aravindan and his family turned vegan, the one thing they couldn’t find a substitute for in Coimbatore was ice cream. This set him thinking. His family-run business was sweets and savouries, to which he had introduced vegan mysurpak, burfis and ladoos. Why not look bring ice creams into the fold too? Thus the experiment at his wedding. “We had two flavours: chikoo and jackfruit,” he recalls. The response encouraged him to work on the product and set up a stall at the Gourmet Bazaar in September. “I wanted feedback from non-vegans but didn’t expect the fabulous response,” he beams. “Out of 10 people who tasted it, eight bought.”

He talks about how he experimented with different plant milks like soy, almond and coconut — even trying to mix them in different proportions before he settled on the last. The reason, he says, has to do with sustainability. “I wanted not just vegan but also local and sustainable. I source all my ingredients within a 100km radius. Everything has to be seasonal or always available.”

V Aravindan

V Aravindan  

Which tends to limit his choice of flavours. You won’t find the universal chocolate, strawberry and vanilla in his range. “You get cocoa and vanilla locally but the quality we need is mostly exported. Same goes for strawberry. It won’t be economically feasible,” he explains. The other factor is how coconut milk reacts with the ingredients. “It is different,” he agrees and then elaborates. “A regular dairy ice cream, 400 ml of it, with the packing will weigh around one to 1.5 kg. But coconut milk is creamier so the weight will be between 2.5 to 2.75 kg. Also, say, I am making a ginger ice cream; for one litre of regular milk, I need 30ml ginger extract. For coconut nilk I need double.” Aravindan emphasises that apart from coconut milk, he uses only cold-pressed fruit pulp and nattu sakkarai. “No white sugar, no preservatives, no emulsifiers,” he says firmly.

Cocolicious: The icecream for vegans

So what flavours does he have? At the Gourmet Bazaar, my friend and I had tried guava, papaya and musk melon. In all three, the fruit flavour was strong but not overpowering. Creamy and without icicles, the sweetness was also quite mild and tempered. Since his emphasis is on seasonal and local, Aravindan points out that all flavours may not be always available. “Mango, jackfruit and red guava will be available only in summer,” he says but adds, “But musk melon, ginger, papaya and green guava will be available all the time.” He’s quite taken with a ragi ice cream as well. “I am also going to introduce vegetable flavours. We’re working on beetroot and carrot.” Citrus fruits are challenging, he muses. Given how they react with coconut milk, it has to be made fresh. “May be we will limit it to festivals and special occasions and not put it out into the market.” He wants to introduce an orange and ginger flavour — “it’s an amazing combination,” he says wistfully — but is yet to figure out the orange-coconut milk reaction.

Listening to him talk about his process, it seems that there must be quite a bit of wastage. He agrees but adds that the quantity is minimal and it’s not thrown away. “My family eats it all up,” he chuckles. The ice cream is manufactured in a factory in Udumalpet. “The trick lies in the churning process,” says Aravindan adding, “It’s our technical secret.”

Ask him about the pricing and he admits he can’t compare with the existing brands. “But it is cheaper than the existing gourmet range,” he says. At the Gourmet Bazaar, he did a pay-as-you-wish sale. “Over two days, we sold almost 700 cups and, on an average, people were willing to pay around ₹150 per scoop. But we will probably settle for between ₹50 and ₹75. It will give us a decent margin and also reach more people. What’s the point of doing something like this unless it can reach a larger audience?” he asks rhetorically.

He is putting together a list of stores where he can retail the ice cream. “At least for the next year or two,” he smiles. “If I open an exclusive parlour, I will have to pass on the overheads to the customer. I also want feedback to see what other improvements we can make. When the production is on a scale that allows us to meet other overheads, we will open an exclusive parlour.” Currently Aravindan is working on the packaging for retail. “It will be super cool and eco-friendly,” he laughs. As soon as that is fixed, Cocolicious will hit the stores. And when’s that? “Very soon,” he assures.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:47:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/v-aravindan-on-cocolicious-vegan-ice-cream-made-of-coconut-milk/article29971845.ece

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