New Delhi, India
July 20, 2013
This time, happening to be in the vicinity of a Giani’s store—at the PVR Anupam Shopping Complex in Saket—we decided to give it another try. The Giani’s store here isn’t enclosed; it’s basically just a small square room with two dispensing counters looking out onto the large courtyard that forms the central area of the shopping complex. You can take your ice cream and stand beside the counter (it’s a display counter, so you can’t actually rest your elbows on it). Or you can take your ice cream and go sit on one of the very few benches dotted around the paved area. Or, if you do want a place to sit next to Giani’s, there are a couple of plastic tables and chairs.
The Giani’s menu is pretty extensive. There are regular ice creams (in all the flavours popular in Delhi: chocolate, Belgian chocolate, rum and raisin, vanilla, strawberry, butterscotch, etc); gelati, sorbets, sundaes, kulfi, etc. Unfortunately, we realised after a while that the menu is for whatever Giani’s offers at different times of the year; it isn’t necessarily a reflection of what’s on sale right now.
The cheekoo ice cream and the custard apple ice cream, both made from two of my favourite fruits, would (or so we hoped) be on sale, since both sapodillas and custard apples are in season right now. But no; neither was available. We searched the display counter for other flavours that sounded appealing, and both my husband and I picked the same one: anjeer (fig). We’ve had fig ice cream (and very good stuff, too!) in other Indian ice cream stores, and hoped that Giani’s—with their reputation for good fruit ice creams—would do justice to it.
Did it? No. Resoundingly no. Their fig ice cream turned out to be a very poorly flavoured vanilla ice cream into which they’d mixed small quantities of chopped, rather chewy dried figs. The texture was all right, but the flavour itself was terribly disappointing.
Since none of the three plastic tables had been vacant when we began eating our ice creams, we had the first few spoonsful standing up. Then some people vacated a table, so we sat down. By the time we finished eating, I was certain that the fig ice cream couldn’t have been one of Giani’s specialties. All our friends couldn’t have been wrong. Maybe Giani’s are better at ‘local’ ice creams? Kulfi, for example? I therefore decided to take the plunge, and ordered yet another ice cream. A ‘royal kulfi falooda’.
It looked a little virulent when it arrived, because the falooda (a slithery, translucent accompaniment which resembles rice noodles but is made from corn flour) was a vivid yellow. I’m guessing the attempt was to make it look as if it had been coloured with saffron; it just succeeded in looking rather gaudy. The large scoop of kulfi that nestled beneath this yellow wig of falooda was creamy enough, but (like the falooda was drenched in cloyingly sweet kewra (pandanus essence). My husband, who had (with some trepidation) one plastic teaspoonful, immediately, "Throw it away! It tastes nauseating!"
Yes, it was that bad, and even I (who hate to waste anything) ended up leaving the last few spoonsful. It was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that the stench of piss had started wafting from a nearby (though invisible) urinal around this time. We beat a hasty retreat.
Our bill for three ice creams (including the royal kulfi falooda) was Rs 248. That’s cheap enough, but the ice cream was so frightful, I’d never go back.
From journal Delhi's Icecream Avatars