The sweet tinkers of Kulfi Wala's bells on lazy summer noon would always give our young hearts a mixed feeling of joy and crisis. Joy because of obvious reasons, but crisis as the only God knew if our mothers would give us a 5 taka coin for a kulfi made with ‘sewage water’ (according to her). Perhaps to calm our disappointments, they would buy popsicle moulds for an at-home treat instead.
Shahin Sultana, a 48-year-old mother from Dhaka's Bailey Road, reminisces how her children would run to the balcony and keep looking at the ice cream carts whenever the bell sounded. That is why she tried to make popsicles by herself.
"I didn't have YouTube to search for recipes twenty years ago. So I tried to make ice cream with the most basic ingredients, and as much cooking sense as I had at that time."
She simply reduced milk on the stove with sugar and some optional spices and scents, such as cinnamon, bay leaves, elach, rose water or kewra water just like when she cooks shemai, payesh, or kheer. After that, she poured them into popsicle moulds and kept them in the freezer overnight. "They weren't exactly like the ones you buy, but my children were excited," affirms Mrs Shahin. She also tried infusing different flavours and fruit pulps like cocoa, mango, strawberry, caramel, yoghurt etc. to the denser milk and the results were as exciting as the malai one.
Her daughter, Meherin Sultana, who is now a student of Viqarunnisa Noon College, tries making ice cream at home following her mother's steps and beyond. She often attempts to make ice cream of different genres. Sometimes she makes sorbet and slushies from fruit juice, and sometimes sundaes from chilled heavy cream.
She usually adds favourite crunches to fluffed heavy cream and pops them into the freezer as a lazy hack to have some scoops ready for midnight cravings. "I don't have an ice-cream churner, but you can put some ice into a bigger bowl, then whip the cream in a smaller bowl that’s kept in the middle of the ice. It would work as a replacement but there are easier ways. Also, ice creams would taste good even if you don't put much effort," Meherin guarantees.
According to her experience, the key is to whip pre-cooled heavy cream at low speed until soft peaks form. Whipping them too much can make them icier. If one wants even softer servings, they can add sweetened condensed milk or sugar syrup to the cream. That way, the water molecules of the cream would bind less and make the ice cream fluffier.
The same is true for sorbet. Adding sugar syrup or honey to frozen fruits while blending them would make the texture less crunchy like lolly ice cream instead of patbingsu or gola - types of shaved ice.
She also shares how easy it is to make everyone’s favourite choco bar at home even if one does not have popsicle moulds. After following the usual procedure with heavy cream and condensed milk, the mixture should be poured on flat-based crockeries, such as trays, cake moulds etc. with around 1-1.5 centimetre thickness. Preparing the tray with some baking paper beforehand would make everything easier.
After freezing them for at least 6 hours, one only has to cut them into favourite shapes with a knife or cutter, stick a popsicle stick in each of them, and dip them in melted chocolate prepared in a wide-enough drinking glass. This step needs to be done quickly as the ice cream can start to temper if left out too long. One can add favourite toppings such as peanuts, frozen fruits, crushed oreo, chocolate chips etc. over the coat before the chocolate turns crunchy solid.
At home, five-star dishes like Kishwar Chowdhury’s ‘Persian Vanilla and Roses’ might be difficult to achieve for the readers, as the genius gastronomy of the kulfi dessert is nothing less than a work of art. However, the essence of experimenting and polishing icy delicacies at home can be an exciting sport this summer. After all, apart from bringing a cool relief on fiery days, ice cream treats hold the warmest of memories for everyone.
Mehenaz Sultana is a student of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.