The marriage of the native and the exotic is always a high-risk gamble. It can either be a new, exciting adventure, or a perfect catastrophe. Think Russian belly dancers and a dosa counter at a Gatsby-themed reception in Goa.
These thoughts run through our minds as we gingerly take a bite of Scoopy Do’s ice-cream, made from an ingredient the average Indian kitchen stocks — jaggery. If that wasn’t enough, this one has another domestic staple — pepper.
Expectations run in hyperbole; after all, there have been culinary innovations like green tea frappuccino and English toast with coconut-egg custard. As the ice-cream melts on our taste buds, we have a smug verdict. Where is the familiar sting of pepper?
OUR PICK: The plain jaggery ice cream, a refreshing alternative to staples such as vanilla. With its mellow jaggery overtones, it’s the desi response to butterscotch. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Looking at our blank expression, Vivek Kashelkar, co-founder of Scoopy Do, and at whose Borivli apartment we are at, just smiles. And then, a sharp surprise of pepper pops up on the palate paved with mellow jaggery. Strangely, this fusion works. Kashelkar says, “I had to experiment with jaggery in ice cream 300 times. Jaggery is a strong flavour and you have to make sure it doesn’t overpower other ingredients.”
Co-founder Vivek Kashelkar prepares a fresh batch of dessicated coconut and jaggery ice cream at his apartment
Set up in October 2015, right in Kashelkar’s living quarters, Scoopy Do is the brainchild of Kashelkar and his hotel management degree batchmates Vinod Nair and Dixit Patel. Currently, Scoopy Do delivers in Borivli and Kandivli (half kg costs Rs 210) but is looking to expand with crowdfunded help.
choco chip ice cream
Taking on a venture in ice cream is challenging. Ice cream is ubiquitously loved, and the most radical innovations still need to pass the one true test — are you transported to your childhood?
The idea of infusing ice cream with jaggery came from Pankaj Rao, Kashelkar’s friend who works in a shipping company. Tired of red velvet and rocky road, Pankaj was looking for something that wasn’t niche. “And that’s when I turned to the cold coffee as I have often, in which I use jaggery for sweetness. Milk, coffee and jaggery work well together. So, why not in ice cream as well?” he asks.
Anjeer ice cream
By substituting sugar for jaggery, Kashelkar got more than what he bargained for. Jaggery gives Scoopy Do ice creams a colour reminiscent of golden moonrises. It also acts as a natural thickening agent, an important quality for ice creams. And, need we even reiterate the health quotient that unprocessed sugar comes with? “We had to master the art of using this homely, humble and rustic ingredient, which has not got its due,” says Kashelkar, a self-confessed ice cream lover.
Currently, Scoopy Do offers the following mix of unique and universally loved options — plain jaggery, roasted almond, pistachio, rich coffee (Rao’s favourite), desiccated coconut, black pepper, anjeer, sesame (which Rao describes as “til gud ice cream”) and choco chip. Mango, honey, nutmeg and rose petal are in the works.
Kashelkar prepares two flavours afresh for us — desiccated coconut and choco chip. Kashelkar lovingly compares the former to modaks. We are reminded of barfi, but felt it required to be smoother.
Used as molasses, jaggery works well with coconut in a way that is familiar and comforting, yet not overpoweringly sweet as traditional Indian desserts sometimes become. And this, is true of most of Scoopy Do’s ice-creams — they draw from an Indian dessert palate, using ingredients that effortlessly complement the jaggery. Dried fruits and nuts, like roasted almond, for instance, are a sure shot formula.
We dip into the ice-cream maker for a scoop of choco chip ice cream, and we find it to be one of the mildest varieties we might have encountered. Not cloyingly sweet, it pampers you gently. Discerning chocolate addicts, on the other hand, might find it underwhelming to their taste. The good news: You cannot taste jaggery in this. This, according to us, is a great thing. Don’t mess around with chocolate.
“Jaggery will not work with sitaphal or watermelon. But, we have paid attention to flavours within the common man’s reach, and things that are used at home,” says Kashelkar.