Growing up in Gujarati-dominated Vile Parle, Mumbai, my father remembers sancha ice-cream well. “All the ladies in our building would hand churn these ice-creams in wooden buckets,” he recalls as he takes another taste of the Asli Alphonso before him. We are in potholed Indiranagar, at the new Bangalore edition of Apsara Ice Creams.
The brainchild of an enterprising young Gujarati, Apsara took what my father once knew as a Kailas Sadan special and swept through much of 1970s Mumbai. Despite hitting his troubled teens in this decade, the lure of a childhood favourite could not keep my father away. “My favourite was the roasted almond. Or the sitaphal,” he says as he takes another thoughtful bite. “The thing about these ice-creams is that they aren’t too sweet.”
These may sound like the geriatric pronouncements of a health-nut parent, hell-bent on inculcating good habits in their offspring, but as we steal a spoonful of this golden yellow treat, we have to agree. Apsara’s ice-creams are worth the hype. While their posher, more “natural” cousins from Juhu Scheme bask in all the notoriety, these light and airy babies are stealing the show.
While Nana waxes eloquent, we decide to employ some of that millennial daring and give Apsara’s Paani Puri Sorbet a chance. The rewards are immediate. Dusted with some crushed puri, we crunch into this icy delight and try not to make obscene noises in this family-friendly store. Its sweet frostiness is immediately offset by the classic chatpata pani puri spices - the puri dusting creates textural delight.
We dream of gnawing on entire glaciers of this treat instead of sweating through afternoons spent poring over presentations. We dream, like Kantaro the Sweet-Tooth Salaryman, of giving up the 9 to 5 entirely and applying for the position of Puri Crushed Over Speckled Sorbet. We dream of throwing all caution to the wind, clambering onto ice floes made of this sorbet, and floating off gently into the sunset. (Okay, that’s maybe too much Kantaro.)
But more ice-cream is to be had. Our companion, wise beyond his years, gets himself a sensible scoop of Shahi Anjeer, while - dizzy post-pani puri - we settle on Crunchy Chikki: every girl needs her protein. The Shahi Anjeer is so figgy we’re sure it’s some kind of health food; we wouldn’t whine about eating a scoop or two before exams for its brain-boosting properties. The Chikki surprises us however; it’s not at all like that kirana chikki you once ate by the dozen to alleviate summer vacation boredom. Instead, we encounter a chikki that is all grown up. Perfumed flecks of badam and pista dot its pale green creaminess; we are transported to taste testing at a wedding mithai shop. It is by no means unpleasant: just unexpectedly celebratory. Perhaps it knew something we didn’t.
Clouds gather and thunder rumbles as we pay our bill. Bangalore perks up immediately. Worn out dry leaves skitter across the street and every worker bee in the surrounding startups hopefully pops their head out of a window. A gentle pitter-patter begins. We thought eating four ice-creams would be the highlight of our day, but the after-effects might be even sweeter.
Getting there:100/1B, 10th Cross 2nd Main, Indiranagar 1st Stage, with seven other outlets around the city. A small scoop will set you back by Rs 65.
Accessibility: One step up from the pavement, with some seating within as well as al fresco.
Sushmita Sundaram writes about funny people, odd things, and anything edible. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.
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