Let there be date palm jaggery ice-cream

Pretend Interviewer (PI): Wassup?! *looks confused* Who are you? What happened to EP?

EP (me) *weeping copiously* it is she, it is me, it is I, it is EP!

PI: Come now, whatever the tragedy, let us not forget our grammar. Why do you cry so? Here are some tissues.

EP *wailing loudly* I put on a hundred kilos in the last few weeks, after being so goood with the yoga and the saying no to sugar and the eating of vitamins and the…and the.. and the… *blubbers* and the salads!

PI: Then what resulted in this spectacular *clears throat* size increase?

EP: It all started with the yoga classes being held off till the vitamin levels improved. Then we had the birthday cakes and desserts in October, and the trip away. In November, there have been festivities and my mum in law cooks so well. I am now visiting my mom in a city (Kolkata) which eats dessert for breakfast. I have no hope, NO HOPE!


PI: Sweets for breakfast?! That is a dental disaster waiting to be happen. I thought you were planning this very soulful trip to Kolkata, full of discovery and writing.

EP: Yes, yes! I was going to be a tourist in my hometown and tell you all about the history, romance, joys and hidden delights that the city has to offer.

PI: Nice! Discovering the old with new eyes! Give us an example of what you had planned.

EP: The spiritual Belur Math – noted for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. And The legendary local flower market, supposed to be the largest in Asia! Vibrant colors, freshest blooms, fierce bargaining! Iconic!

PI: We don’t see a single flower in your vicinity. Your resolutions…

EP: … drowned in a tub of ice-cream.

PI: Err..

EP: Let me clarify, it is no ordinary ice-cream.  Imagine the creamiest, most caramelly, molassy, treacly, golden bowl of heaven *starts tearing up again*

PI: Oh my! Someone is quite emotional today. Which ice-cream is this?

EP: It is called Pabrai’s Nolen Gur Icecream

PI *whips out notes e-mailed by the research team* Did you know Pabrai’s Fresh and Naturelle is a chain started, a few years ago, by a 28 year old, Kunal Pabrai, whose dad ran Tulika’s. We know that Tulika’s, which has now ceased to exist, was your favorite ice cream parlor while growing up.

EP: Don’t! I will start weeping again. They did this wonderful concoction – alternating vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a delicious chocolaty-bready-cakey layer in the middle, the entire thing enveloped in chocolate chips – gigantic slices of heaven. I have not come across anything like it since. I must replicate it at home!

PI:  Let’s spend some time on this Nolen Gur ingredient. In winters, in this part of the world, you get a special form of jaggery – the Nolen Gur – extracted from the sap of the date palm tree. Describe its flavor for our curious readers.

EP: Caremelly, golden, nutty and indescribable.  This delicious heavenly sweet ingredient is used in a variety of Bengali milk based dessert, taking them from their plain Jane (though still beloved) around the year form – to dishes fit for royalty.

PI: *drools* Describe these sweets?

EP: First there is the sandesh. For my non Kolkata/non Bengali friends, this is like cottage cheese fudge. You get various versions of sandesh, each sweetmeat seller having the tried and tested and a few innovations up his sleeve. Then you have the rosogollas, the payasam or the rice pudding, the curd/yogurt, the list is endless.

PI: Coming back to Pabrai’s, we have been informed by confirmed sources, that you visited at least one retail outlet, after a hot and fiery street-food binge Which flavours did you try?

EP: Think STRONG South Indian filter coffee. I plan to go back for the tender coconut, the custard apple, and the betel nut leaf or pan. They have an outlet right down the street where I live in Bangalore, which I foolishly have not been to before.

PI: So, to get to the heart of the matter, it is goodbye yoga and reaching your ideal weight. Instead, it is hello ice-cream and being a balloon. What is your advice to our readers?

EP: If you live in Kolkata head over to any restaurant which Pabrai supplies to – or to the closest outlet. If you live in India, you can visit one of their several outlets – or I would recommend –  pick some up during your travels to the city. If you don’t live in India, plan a vacation soon.

PI: And what’s your new resolution/addition to pootle list?

EP: Learn to make ice-cream and experiment with all the wonderful flavors out there. You know, like musk-melon, almond butter, peanut praline. Rose petals from the flower market. *drifts away in rose scented and delicately hued clouds*


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