Decided that I’m not going to bother with all the fancy gelato places that are supposedly popping up all over when I go down to Bombay – give me some good ole kulfi from the Turner Road guy any day!
When I was six years old and we still lived in my Nana’s house, a once-a-week treat after dinner was kulfi. After the 8.45pm Rosary, we sat down to dinner at 9pm. And once dinner was gobbled up, we’d strain our ears for the kulfiwalla’s cries. “Kul-pee-ooo!” “Kul-pee-oo!” he’d call out as he made his way round our now-silent streets, with his basket perched atop his head. Each household would assemble on their front steps with correct change. You’d get two sizes – big (Re. 1) or small (50 paise), and two flavours: malai or pista (not that a single pistachio ever went into it, mind you – just a healthy dose of green food colour). The aluminium cones would be dipped in water to loosen the kulfi within, and out it would pop. Placed on a leaf and cut into bite-sized chunks before your eyes. Chop-chop-chop. Yum! Yum!! Yum!!!
Back in the day when couples actually invited children to their weddings (‘Mr & Mrs Pereira & FLY’ read the invitation - printed by David & Co), when the reception dinner meant a “plated service” of cold cuts, a boiled egg and salad (at Rs. 8 per head during my mum & dad’s time – and they had the audacity to ask for a discount), dessert could only mean one thing – pista kulfi. No Candies Caterers to give you a dessert selection larger than Brad and Ange’s expanding brood. If you wanted some more, you got your mum to take an extra one, telling the waiter it was for your make-believe sister who was still dancing to the Masala.
Has anyone ever had “pail ice-cream”? At least, that’s what we called it in the Pereira Clan. A Bandra Feast Sunday tradition at Nana Evelyn’s house was making - and dabaoing - pail ice-cream. After a full Bandra Feast lunch of EI sorpotel, chicken curry, potato chops, vindaloo, pea pulao and fugiyas, you always made sure you had place for the piece de resistance – pail ice-cream – all the more tasty because your toil and time had gone into its creation.
The evening before, Nana would thoroughly dust the old wooden ice-cream pail for its yearly duty. And once all the “Happy Feast”ing was done and over with, the bathroom would be transformed into an ice-creamery. A few kilos of ice would be bought from the ice-factory on Ice Factory Road (I have no idea what the real name is; we just called it that) and smashed into chunks with a hammer. Rock salt was added to lower the temperature even further, and then this was packed into the outer shell of the wooden vat. The aunts would measure out the ingredients – milk, sugar, cardamom, etc. etc. all poured into the inner metallic vessel.
Each of the 20 cousins would have a go at churning the contents within. Being the third youngest of the gang, I would be allowed a token turn to appease me. After what seemed like h-o-u-r-s of manual labour, when the handle could turn no more, you knew the ice-cream had set. Shares were doled out and second rounds were demanded until it was swiped clean. A feast fit for the Feast!