India Off the Beaten Track: Exploring Kerala Toddy Shops

Food-and-people-web

‘Girls from good families don’t go to Toddy shops’. These were the words that my Keralite friend Divya heard from her granny and she never went to one. Toddy shops in India are considered manly establishments, where male patrons come for a jug of palm wine called Toddy or Kallu and a snack. What I was told about those places that the food served there was spicy and full of flavour. Divya learnt that after she had some parcels delivered home by her friends.

As for me being a foreigner and not having to adhere to the local norms gave me an advantage and Toddy shops sounded like a great opportunity to experience the authentic flavours of Kerala countryside.

Finding the right places

The locals will confirm that the best Toddy shops – both in terms of food and drink – can be found in the countryside, nowhere near developed urban areas. The first Toddy shop that I stepped into was an hour cab ride from Fort Cochin. As soon as I tried the food my taste buds started dancing and it didn’t take me long to decide that I have to do a thorough investigation on Toddy shop fare. That’s how I set myself on a mission to explore as many of those shops as I can along the way.

Toddy-shop-Cochin-web

A few more visits followed to some bigger and smaller establishments in Aleppey area, which is famous for Toddy shops. Most of them were not listed in any travel guides nor shown in online maps, so rickshaw drivers were the ones I had to rely on to be taken to the right places. I trained my eye to spot white road signs written in local language with a number on them denoting a Toddy shop.

Toddy shop Aleppey

While a couple of these restaurants were established in proper houses and even had separate rooms for family lunching or dining, the most authentic Toddy shops were shacks built from scraps in the middle of nowhere with very basic (to say the least) amenities and decor. One of the most delicious dishes that I had while sitting on a wobbly plastic chair was cooked and served to me in a mere shed on the side of a country road. Ducks were clucking just outside of it, one of them had already assumed the shape of delicious curry in my plate.

Palm wine toddy

Toddy is naturally sweet, usually mildly alcoholic beverage made of coconut palm sap and can be classified as wine. It is collected by professional toddy tappers who climb palm trees twice a day – early morning and evening, make a cut in a coconut flower bud and attach clay vessels for the sap to drip into.

After the sap is collected, it gets delivered straight to a toddy shop as the shelf life of this drink is very short – fermentation eventually turns it into vinegar. Fresh unfermented Toddy version is called Elam. It is on the sweeter side and has very little amount of alcohol. The longer it stays in the jugs, the more it ferments thus increasing its sourness and content of alcohol. You can tell that Toddy has been fermented by milky white colour in comparison to the fresh one.

Some places sell Toddy by glass, but by default it comes to the table in an approximately one litre clay jug. Sometimes a strainer is provided so small particles of palm chips get eliminated when pouring it into a glass.

Toddy jug

Toddy shop food

Spicy meat, fish and seafood dishes are served as accompaniments to Toddy. Usually they are prepared two ways – fried or roasted in a thick gravy. The most popular dish is fish curry, but seeking for a variety of food or something specific, such as duck or crab curry (that were my personal favourites, even though a bit hard to find), rickshaw drivers are the best people to talk to as long as they understand what you want. However, things can get tricky due to language barrier: I did a fair share of touring just to be taken to some small places where they offered only some fish and chapati.

Colourful-interior-2-web

 

Written menus are non-existent in Toddy shops and orders can be placed by simply naming preferred type of meat or fish. The chances staff would speak good English are rather slim, so if you coming over armed with the basic vocabulary of Toddy shop fare would make ordering of food much easier.

Cook-web

When I visited my first Toddy shop I didn’t have any notes handy, so after asking too many questions I was taken on a tour to the kitchen. Huge bowls of curries and fries were lined up there and I was lucky enough to be given to try just about every dish they had available. A couple of weeks later and a few more Toddy shops visited I already had a list of food items in the local language and was ordering Njand (crab) or Taravu (duck) with a breeze.

Kitchen-web

Seafood dishes

Meen Curry – red curry with big chunks of fish in it. Every Toddy shop would have it as it is a signature dish of these establishments.

All-components-web

Meen Polichattu – masala marinated fish fried and then grilled in a banana leaf. The leaf parcel lets the fish steam inside that makes it tender and juicy.

Karimeen-web

Chemeen – prawn stew.

Koondal – squid.

Kakka – backwater shellfish.

Njand – crab stewed in a fragrant red curry with lots of chili peppers.

Crab curry

Meat dishes

Nadan Kozhi – free range countryside chicken.

Kaada – black quail cooked in gravy.

Panni – fried pork cubes.

Muyal – rabbit stew.

Pothirachi – beef fry.

Beef-half-web

Taravu – duck stew with allspice, ginger and onion. The meat is chopped up in small pieces with bones.

Duck-curry-web

Staples

Kappa Puzhangiyathu – tapioca, that has been cut into cubes and steamed. It is a staple dish eaten with curry.

Tapioca

Appam – a type of pancake made of fermented rice batter and coconut milk. It is similar to idly and does not have much of flavour on its own, but soaks up sauce or curry well and is perfect with duck or mutton curry.

Appam

Puttu – red rice bread that serves as a sponge to soak up curries. Puttus are made of ground roasted rice dough, that is rolled into small logs and then steamed. The logs are then cut into cylinder shaped pieces and dabbed with fresh grated coconut at both ends. Traditionally Puttus are eaten for breakfast with chickpea curry or banana, but they make a good accompaniment to meat curries too.

Puttu

Tips for visiting a Toddy shop

  • The best (and also the busiest) time to come to a Toddy shop is around lunch time, when all the food options are still available. However, if your are not very particular about the food, you can come in later in the day or even for late dinner when it is not so crowded.
  • If you are a female traveller, you might want to sit in a family room, away from the curious eyes of local men. However, if you don’t mind being surrounded by exclusively male audience, settle down in the common area and soake up the real Toddy shop atmosphere.
  • The servings of food are medium-sized, but along with the side dish it should be enough for a light eater. If you are really hungry or just adventurous, order two or more different options.
  • Toddy shops are not for the faint hearted. If you are used to waiters asking you if you like it spicy, your needs will not be taken into consideration here as most of the food is prepared in large batches and it is at least medium spicy. Get some tissues ready for wiping your sweat and an odd tear when those chili peppers kick in. Wash the spiciness down with more Toddy – it works well as fire extinguisher.
  • Don’t expect cutlery to be provided. Roll up your sleeves and use your fingers. Tapioca, Appam or Puttu serve the purpose of soaking up the sauces quite well.

Lunch at Toddy shop

Bangalore Food Street: Make Sure You Come Here Hungry

Food street Bangalore

There is the whole street dedicated to food in Bangalore and by no coincidence it is called Food Street. Even though the street is quite short stretch of food shops, you can find a variety of foods here: typical street snacks – chats, bread and rice dishes, ice creams and desserts that represent quite a few regions of India.

While most of the vendors on this street operate throughout the day, you might think what’s the big deal about it if you come here early, when there is not much action happening and chilled shopkeepers are only getting ready for the evening. However, as soon as the sun starts sinking towards the horizon and after work crowd spills out to the streets, this place bucks up with a snap of fingers.

Frying, stirring, mixing and pouring with steam and flames rising from the stoves and grills, along with trails of nostril tickling aromas. Come to Bangalore Food Street with a big appetite and preferably bring some company along so you can share the meals and get to try as much as possible of all of the delicious options available.

Rumali roti

When you see a man flipping big round flat bread on a dome shaped pan with fire burning underneath, stop by and try Rumali roti. The name of this bread was derived from Urdu word rumaal, which means a fine fabric kerchief worn as a headdress by Sikh men. The bread is so thin that it takes only seconds to bake. You will get it served with curry for dipping and a wedge of onion for that extra zing.

Rumali roti baking

Rumali flipping

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Dabeli

Invented in Gujarat Dabeli is yet another sweet and spicy snack you might want to try when a mound of buns garnished with pomegranate seeds, peanuts and sev noodles catches your eye. Dabeli is made of soft pav bread filled with a mix of boiled potatoes, date-tamarind chutney and fragrant masala made of cumin, cinnamon, cloves coriander and chili. Get it warmed up on a tava in a decent amount of butter (Julia Child would have loved India, I am sure) and munch it with onion and roasted chillies.

Dabeli Bangalore

Dabeli buns

Raj kachori

Raj kachori with its origins in Delhi looks like an oversized Dahi puri – stuffed pastry basket – that I wrote about in my Mubai street food overview. The fact that pastry shell of Raj kachori is much bigger means that there is much more space for the filling. Inside of it you will find tamarind and coriander chutney, boiled potatoes, chickpeas and sweetened yoghurt, all sprinkled with a bit of chilly and garnished with carrot julienne, coriander, pomegranate seeds, sev noodles and cashews. Sweet, sour and touch spicy flavour might leave you a bit confused whether you are having a snack or a dessert.

Raj kachori snack

Holige

Visiting Karnataka and not trying holige – round flatbread with sweet filling – would be a real crime. It is Karnataka’s favourite dish during festivals, marriages and other special celebrations. Holige (also known as bele obbattu) can come in a variety of fillings including peanut and sesame. On Bangalore Food Street you can find them made with coconut and chana dal. You will see balls of dough with encased filling inside being pressed flat and then cooked on a griddle in front of you. I found dal holige less sweet, but the one with coconut had more flavour to it.

Holige flipping

Dal holige

Suterfeni

Yellow fiber-like coils of sweets called sutterfeni (‘sutter’ meaning thread and ‘feni’ – fine) piled up in stacks and a big pan of steaming hot yellow coloured milk will be a sign that it is time for yet another sweet treat. Originating from the deserts of Gujarat and Rajastan these sweets made of rice flour and deep fried in ghee can be eaten on their own. Here on Food street you can try Sutterfeni with saffron-almond milk. Watch one of those coils placed in a bowl and hot badam milk poured over the top of it. The coil softens up instantly, turning into a mushy consistency. If you are of saffron fan just like I am, this dessert is just for you.

Fanni-shop-web

Fanni-web

Gulkan ice cream

Gulkan – rose petal jam – is popular in Indian cuisine, so don’t miss a chance to try dessert made with it. Head to the very end of the Food Street and look out for a shop called “Shivanna Gulkand Store”. From the first sight it might seem like an ordinary shop selling chips, bananas and soft drinks, but don’t get deceived by the storefront and ask for a special Gulkan. You will be handed over a bowl filled with mixed fruit, ice cream and a good dollop of jam which is said to have a cooling effect on a hot day. Be prepared for an explosion of sweetness and powerful rose flavour.

Gulkan shop Bangalore

Gulkan-dessert-web

Food St, Vishweshwarapura, Shankarapura, Bengaluru

6 Pins On Bangalore Foodie Map

Thali lunch

If somebody ever tells you that Bangalore is not impressive in terms of food, do not believe them. I had heard that from a few people before visiting this city and set my expectations accordingly. Instead, when I started researching the local food scene myself I was pleasantly surprised.

After following recommendations from the locals for dosas, biryanis and other things delicious or simply wandering along the streets of the city and stumbling across places not mentioned in any guidebooks I made a list of the best Bangalore food places that deserve to be pinned on every foodie’s map.

1. Butter Masala Dosa at Shri Sagar (former CTR)

Best dosa Bangalore

You might hear different stories where to find the best dosa in Bangalore. If you have time you might do what I did: go and try a few places just to compare them and see for yourself, otherwise save your time and head straight to Shri Sagar. Most likely you’ll find this place packed during evening hours, but don’t get turned away. As soon as you score a seat at a tiny shared table (although it might take a bit of a wait), receive your butter masala dosa and sink your teeth into it, you will realise why you are here. With crunchy outer shell and a soft inner layer it is a perfection of a creation and not many dosas out there can really compare to it. A couple of different coconut chutneys served to it are also lip smacking good.

Shri Sagar Bangalore

Shri Sagar, Margosa road 152, 7th Cross Rd, Malleshwara, Bengaluru

2. Special Thali Lunch at Mavali Tiffin Rooms

Best thali Bangalore

This legendary place better known as MTR among the locals has been operating since 1924. Popular Southern Indian dishes such as  Idlis, Dosas, Kesari Bath and the like are served throughout the week, but if you visit it on the weekend, you can have a lavish Thali lunch, consisting of no less than 14 components. Waiters are regularly cruising around and topping up everybody’s plates with different dishes, so you really have to keep up the eating pace in order to make room on your plate for other things to come. Kosambri (raw carrot and daal salad), Palya (cabbage stir fry), Puri bread with Sambar, Payasam (sweet milky porridge made of rice and broken wheat), Bisibelebath (spicy lentil and rice stew), Obbattu (sweet flatbread stuffed with coconut) are the dishes you can expect just to name a few. Sweet Beeda – betel leave parcel with rose jam and spices – a popular digestive to chew on in India – is served at the end of the lunch for a reason. Make sure you come here really hungry as this food feast will leave satiated even big eaters.

MTR desserts Bangalore

14, Lal Bagh Main Rd, Doddamavalli, Sampangi Rama Nagar, Bengaluru

3. Vada at Brahmin’s Coffee Bar

Best vada Bangalore

If you tried Vadas made as dry deep fried patties elsewhere and they didn’t grow on you, come to Brahmins Cafe to give them another chance. You might get surprised about the texture and taste of those soft doughnut-like snacks here. Vadas are served in a pond of coconut-coriander chutney and if you run out of it, chutney walla (master) sitting with two pots of this goodness in the corner will happily top it up. There is no seating in the cafe, so take your plate, blend into the crowd outside and munch your Vada while standing. Finish off with a glass of sweet milky coffee that is known as one of the best coffees in town.

Brahmins cafe Bangalore

Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, Ranga Rao Road, Near Shankar Mutt, Shankarapura, Bengaluru

4. Beef Biryani at Khazana Food Paradise

Beef biryani Khazana

Located in a small back street of Richmond town this small establishment lives up to the name ‘Food Paradise’. Don’t think too much and order beef biryani – their signature dish known among local biryani aficionados. Prepared in Hyderabadi style, when meat and rice are cooked separately and combined only at the last stage of cooking, it is full of flavours and aromas of spices – cinnamon, cardamom and cloves among others. Biryani is served with a mild Baingan ka Salan – tomato based eggplant curry and onions marinated in chilly and coriander raita. Don’t be shy and ask for the top up of the condiments if you run out of them as they add an extra layer of flavour to this dish. Even though Khazana is famous for beef biryani, mutton biryani is equally good here so you won’t go wrong choosing that option either. If you decide to go there, take a word of warning: this place can get highly addictive and you might find yourself daydreaming of Khazana’s biryani way too often.

Khazana Bangalore

Khazana Food Paradise, #16 Aga Abdulla Street, Richmond Town, Richmond Town, Bengaluru

5. Kesar Badam Kulfi at Bowring Kulfi

Kulfi Bangalore

If ice cream is your thing, this is definitely the place to put on your Bangalore itinerary. Bowring Kulfi is a small frozen dessert shop located on a busy road, where you can find a variety of Kulfi on a stick: saffron, pistachio, cardamom, litchi, coconut, mango – how can you ever choose one flavour from that list? Big chance is that you won’t go wrong with whatever your choice ends up being, but they say that Kesar Badam (saffron and almond) kulfi is their customer all time favourite. If you can’t stop after one serving, Elaichi (cardamom) Kulfi would be a good continuation of the theme of local flavours.

Bowring kulfi stall

 

Bowring Kulfi, No. 17/1, Opposite RBS Bank, Field Marshal Cariappa Rd, Bengaluru

6. Badam Milk at Asha Sweet Center

Badam milk Bangalore

Located minutes away from Shri Sagar restaurant, Asha Sweet Center is a destination for a treat after you have dinner or lunch. Right at the front of the store you’ll see a man pouring yellow coloured drink into glasses and handing them in to people. Even though you can find Badam Kesar (saffron and almond) milk at chai shops and restaurants around the town, you might experience enlightement with the first sip of Asha version of this delicious concoction. Loaded with fragrant saffron and topped up with generous amount of almond and pistachio flakes it is guaranteed to take you to the moon and back. And if this treat is not enough, dive in to the second room of the shop and go crazy sampling a mind boggling variety of traditional Indian sweets.

Asha sweet center Bangalore

Asha Sweet Center, 405 8th Cross Rd, Yalappa Garden, Malleshwara, Bengaluru

Goan Specialties: What to Look for on The Menus

goan specialties

Goa region along the West coast of India is known for its seafood and vegetarian dishes. Even though there is an abundance of restaurants, pinpointing Goan specialties might be a challenge due to restauranteurs trying to please the travellers with popular fail-proof dishes from all over the country and beyond. Nepalese momos, Hyderabadi biryanis or Chinese sizzlers might leave you wondering if there is anything interesting to try from the regional cuisine that is a fusion of  Portuguese influenced Catholic and Hindu cooking.

During my six weeks spent in Goa I was set on a mission to discover the subtleties of the local cuisine. I talked to a few chefs and even enrolled into a cooking class, which helped answering some questions and taught me a few things about ingredients, spices and cooking techniques. Here I put together a list of most memorable dishes I had, and even though the variety of Goan cuisine does not end there, this might serve you as a guide on what to look for on the menus.

Xacuti

One of the most popular dishes you’d find on the restaurant menus is Xacuti – a curry made with lamb, chicken or sometimes prawns.  Grated fried coconut, star anise and cardamom are the essential ingredients of this dish. Fragrant and rich, with a toasty flavour of coconut Xacuti is perfect to be spooned, dipped or soaked up with chapati, paratha bread or rice.

Goan xacuti

Rava fish

Rava is a form of semolina that is popular in South Indian cuisine and is used for coating fish before frying it. You can expect either pieces of larger fish such as kingfish or whole smaller fish, typically mackerel prepared that way. Before frying the fish is usually marinated with recheado masala – red fragrant paste made of Kashmiri chilies, a variation of spices, ginger, garlic and vinegar. Succulent and aromatic from the inside and crispy from the outside this dish could be served as a starter or a main course when accompanied with curry and rice.

Rava fish

Bhendi Chi Bhaji

This simple yet surprisingly tasty dish is made of ochra, onions and green chilli that are stir fried and then stewed, with coriander, turmeric powder and cumin seasoning. Is is very fragrant, with cumin aroma prevalent and can be served as a side to seafood or meat options.

ochra stir fry

Vindaloo

Usually on the spicy side (unless tempered down per request) Vindaloo curry is made using meat marinated with coconut vinegar (derived from Portuguese vinho – wine, which was later substituted with vinegar) and garlic (alho). Other ingredients include tomatoes, ginger, Kashmiri chilli, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander seeds and peppercorn. Vinegar gives this dish sourness and tomatoes make the curry rich.

beef vindaloo

Interesting thing that I found out during my cooking class was that Vindaloo does not necessarily have to be served in a form of curry that I was used to having in Indian restaurants all over the world. Longer cooked and thus thicker version of Vindaloo is perfect for serving with fried fish that was unanimously voted as the best dish made during the class.

Ambot Tik

In Konkani language that is spoken in Goa region ’Ambot’ means sour and ’Tik’ means hot and spicy. As the name suggests this curry is just like that, with an intense sweet and sour flavour. The chef of the restaurant I had this meal in told me that this dish consists of lots of ingredients: cinnamon, garlic, onion, ginger, tamarind, coconut vinegar, sugar and Goan sea salt – brownish flakes that crystallise after sea water evaporates in the sun. Ambot Tik can be made with shark or with squid, which is optionally fried with recheado masala paste before adding it to the curry.

Sweet and sour Goan curry

Samarein Chi Kodi

Samarein Chi Kodi is a mild curry made with dried prawns. The tradition of making this curry came from the days when people were shut in their houses during monsoons, so they were getting things ready that could survive the whole monsoon season. Dried prawns was one of those resources. Even though the means of transport available now made fresh food products accessible during the rainy season, the curry remain as one of Goan’s favourites. These days it is often cooked with some fresh prawns added to it with the base of the curry made of tomato, finely blended coconut, tamarind, onions and a little bit of fresh chilli.

Goan prawn curry

Nustea Chi Kodi

Mackerel or any white fish can be used in this curry, made of finely grated coconut, fresh chillies, coriander, garlic and turmeric powder. In terms of texture and ingredients Nustea Chi Kodi is similar to Xacuti. Fish flavour is dominant in it and not overpowered by other ingredients. It is best when eaten with rice.

Goan fish curry

Bebinca

Bebinca is traditional Goan dessert that consists of 16 layers. This pudding, or some may call it cake, is made of flour, sugar, ghee (clarified butter), egg yolk and coconut milk. Sweet, sticky and rich are the best words to describe it. Bebinca is traditionally served warm with ice cream, however, you might struggle finding it on the menus of the restaurants. If you are determined to try it, don’t give up and ask around in sweet shops and larger stores.

Bebinca cake

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Photo credits: samarein chi kodi

10 Mumbai Street Foods You Should Definitely Try

Mumbai street food

If you are visiting Mumbai for the first time, it might easily get overwhelming. Beeping cars and auto rickshaws, vibrant colours, smells and flavours intertwine together, creating a unique picture. Mumbai street food is an experience not to be missed. Devour, experiment, explore, – an amazing array of tasty treats is waiting for you in those stalls, shacks and shoppes that will surely please the palates of vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Vegetarian bites

Pani puri

Flavour adventure in India simply has to begin with pani puri – famous street snack made of deep fried crisp, which gets cracked at the top and then filled with potato and chickpeas. Tamarind, coriander and garam masala flavoured water is poured into the hollow right before the snack is placed into customer’s bowl. You usually get one pani puri at a time, which has to be eaten in one go. Eat as many of those as you like to your heart’s (or stomach’s) content. You can try those snacks from a stall in Chowpatty or in a famous Elko Puri centre.
Pani puri Mumbai

Dahi puri

Dahi puri originated in Mumbai and spread out it all Maharashtra state. Just like pani puri, it is also made of crispy shells that are filled with potato, chickpea and flavoured water. The main difference is the presentation: dahi puris are typically served 5 or 6 pieces a plate, generously topped up with yoghurt, mung beans and sprinkled with chopped coriander. Sometimes chilli powder and sev – small crispy noodles – can be added as a garnish. They are more flavoursome than pani puri and given the two, I’d go for dahi puri any day.
Dahi puri Mumbai

Bhel puri

Puffed up rice and deep fried sev are essential components of this crunchy snack in addition to potatoes, onions and chaat masala. Tamarind and sweet date chutney is poured over the top and it is garnished with finely chopped up vegetables: tomato, cucumber and coriander. Bhel puri is a type of chaat – a snack typically sold from road carts throughout India. Expect to find it around the beaches in Mumbai, where you will get a small paper plate piled up with it.
Bhel puri street food Mumbai

Pav bhaji

Pav bhaji means ‘bread with curry’. The dish originated in 1850s as a fast lunchtime meal for textile mill workers and these days it is served from Mumbai street food stalls to formal restaurants. You know you found pav bhaji when you spot a street vendor grinding up vegetables in red sauce on a big griddle. Thick and aromatic curry is then ladled into one compartment of a square serving tray and chopped onions are placed next to it along with fresh brioche type of bread roll. Dunk the bread in the curry, sprinkle some onions and enjoy one of the most delicious meals you can find on Mumbai streets.
Pav bhaji Mumbai

Carnivores’ treats

Naan chaap

Naan chaap also known as naan sandwich looks like a small burger with meat filling in between of halved soft bread. Spiced up mutton is cooked in a slow pressure cooker and sprinkled with chopped mint and coriander before covering it with the top slice of the bun. The fragrance of spices and the tenderness of meat makes it a real treat.
Naan chaap sandwich Mumbai

Baida roti

Baida means egg, so what you get is roti parcel stuffed with minced meat and egg mix and fried on tava. It reminds of a big crepe with a lot of filling. Eat it drizzled with lemon juice or accompanied with raita – yoghurt with chopped cucumbers and spices.
Baida roti Mumbai

Chota kabab

These flavoursome mutton meatballs are made with allspice, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder, rolled in egg and bread crumbs and deep fried. Bite sized treats come served with a vedge of lemon or some chutney. They are a perfect snack or an entree before picking up some more food to sample from the nearby street vendors.
Chota kabab Mumbai

Chicken tikka roll

Mohammad Ali Road is one of the best places for trying non-vegetarian options in Mumbai and they are plentiful here. Chicken tikka roll is made of yoghurt and masala marinated chicken pieces wrapped in egg coated fried roti. One is too little, two is too much, that’s how I’d describe the encounter with these moreish rolls. They could be a perfect breakfast meal, lunch snack or late night munchy.
Chicken tikka roll Mumbai

Desserts

Kulfi

Kulfi can be described as traditional Indian ice cream, even though it is made in a slightly different way and has more dense texture. Unlike making regular ice cream, kulfi is not whipped. The milk is cooked on a low temperature until it thickens and then slow frozen in icy water, resulting in a very smooth texture devoid of ice critstals.

Layered kulfi with falooda noodles Mumbai

Plain cream, rose, mango, cardamom, saffron and pistachio kulfi flavours are the ones you would usually come across and often you will be served falooda noodles sprinkled with rose water to it. You can order a multiple layered serving or buy small kulfi popsicles. In general, the more natural it looks, the better it tastes. My best shot was getting natural cream flavour kulfi from an old kulfiwala (kulfi vendor) sitting on the ground on the way to Mahalakshmi temple. He had kulfi on sticks, packed in metal cones and submerged in icy water. The man was pulling kulfi out of cone before handing the treat to his customers.

Indian kulfi ice cream

Gulab jamun

If you walk along the street and see a shop submerged in smoky haze and men stirring something in barrel sized pots, most likely it will be a sign you can treat yourself with gulab jamun there. This dessert is made by heating milk on a low flame until it starts solidifying into a dough, then shaping small balls and deep frying them in ghee. The balls are soaked in rose and cardamom syrup, so be prepared for sugar rush. There can be different variations of gulab jamun, some of them more brown in colour due to sugar added into the dough.

Gulab jamun Mumbai

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Photo credits: cover image, pani puri