There’s something nostalgic about ice cream and summers. For those of us growing up in the ’90s in Karachi, just the mention of the two evokes memories of digging into a Polka cup of vanilla or chocolate with its wooden spoons or heading to Snoopy’s with the family to share a sundae. Grabbing an ice lolly or a choc bar from the school canteen or cart is such a common childhood memory, it’s become a movie trope. And who doesn’t remember sneaking in an extra crunch kulfi at a party or wedding?
For my parents’ generation, memories of the kulfi loom large. My mom fondly recalls evenings spent waiting for the kulfiwala on his pushcart: “We’d all run out when we’d hear the bell on his cart ringing. He was this really sweet man and I remember he’d deftly move this wooden stick around in a metallic box to scoop out kulfi.”
While upscale franchises and gelato parlours now crowd the frozen foodscape, in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s it was homegrown ice-cream eateries such as Baloch Ice Cream and Peshawari Ice Cream, both founded in the late 1940s, that were the places to go.
Of course, most people are still fond of places they visited in their childhood. A friend loyally still frequents a small stall in Bahadurabad that sells soft serve in only two flavours: coffee and vanilla.
Indulge yourself with no-churn mango ice cream this summer
“I’d go shopping with my mom, aunt and cousin to Tariq Road, and we’d have Crazy Cone ice cream on the way back. It’s one my favourite memories,” she says.
Nothing makes me more nostalgic than the home-made ice cream my nani [maternal grandmother] would churn out each summer — in Karachi that’s pretty much the whole year — and you’d frequently find chocolate ice cream sprinkled with caramelised almonds in her freezer.
As a young girl, I remember helping out my nani — I’m sure she’ll disagree with how much I actually helped — make batches of chocolate ice cream as the summer would start. I’d watch fascinated as cocoa powder and milk transformed into a thick, silky texture, the seductive smell of chocolate permeating the kitchen.
I’d sit transfixed, as the ice cream machine hummed and churned, my nani knowing exactly when was the right time to pour the next bit of the batch. She’d always fuss over the ice-cream maker, inspecting every part before putting it together, making sure everything was poured in exactly the right amount. There was a certain rhythm to making ice cream and she’d mastered it.
Sadly, I’ve never come close to making chocolate ice cream taste as good as hers. While she tried to help me, my nani officially retired from all kitchen duties more than a decade ago. Luckily, I’ve had more success with a no-churn version I discovered a few years ago, and happily stock my freezer with flavours made from whatever fruit is in season.
Of course, until I master my nani’s recipe, I’ll continue to be seduced by ice cream’s allure. But then again who isn’t?
No-Churn Mango Ice Cream
Nothing beats mango ice cream during the summer. There’s something so cooling and indulgent about this dessert. And the best part? No fussy machine is needed and it takes 10 minutes to prepare. The ice cream usually freezes within six hours, but it’s best to freeze overnight.
While I’ve made mango ice cream here, the recipe can be substituted with any fruit that has a lot of fibre, such as strawberry or cheeku [sapodilla]. For strawberry ice cream, pick slightly sour ones for a great tart but sweet flavour. It’s best to choose sweet cheeku and, for mango, go crazy with all the different kinds on offer throughout the summer — my favourite flavours are with Sindhrri and Anwar Ratol.
1 can (397g/14 oz) of condensed milk (use 2/3 of the can if you like your ice cream less sweet)
2 packets or 400 ml cream
2-3 cups mango, chopped
1 cup of mango, small chopped pieces for topping (optional)
Mix all the ingredients in a blender. First mix the condensed milk and cream. Then add in the cut mango pieces and blend again. Pour into a plastic or steel container. Add in cut mango pieces and stir in if desired. Put in the freezer overnight and serve generous scoops in a cone or bowl.
Originally published in Dawn, EOS, June 5th, 2022