With so many ice cream parlours and specialty shops opening all over Singapore, much attention has been drawn to these new hippy places for gourmet ice cold delights. There are arty farty flavours like avocado and mint, New World tastes like basil and tomato and local flavours like chendol or pumpkin with sweet potato and ginger.
American, Danish, Italian and Japanese brands of gourmet ice creams have been making the waves along with local born establishments like Estivo at Greenwood and Island Creamery at Serene Center, along Bukit Timah Road. However one special place my wife and I discovered over the weekend was no where near any malls, or expatriate high-end living areas.
Right in the heart of Little India, along Upper Dickson Road is Khulfi Bar, a cafe specializing in north Indian ice creams, chaats and tea blends. It isn't really a full bar or cafe as the owners also sell handicrafts and ornaments from India. New Age Indian music creates a relaxing feel and like true blue thrifty Indians, they switch on the air conditioners only when a customer walks in.
Kulfi, or Indian ice cream, is a frozen Indian dessert made with boiled milk that has been reduced through simmering to a rich creamy thickness with slight caramelized and malt notes, something like frozen full cream evaporated milk. Sweetened with sugar and slightly thickened with cornstarch, the Kulfi is frozen in cone-shaped containers. It is not aerated, unlike commercial ice cream, and does not contain eggs either. Flavours are far more exotic than your regular Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry, with spices like cardamom and saffron, fruits like avocado or mango, and nuts like almonds and pistachios.
There is a strong Persian influence in terms of flavouring and condiments pairing up with Kulfi. This ice dessert is served in many ways, but is most commonly served garnished with ground cardamom, saffron, or pistachio nuts. Kulfi can also be served with Faloodeh or vermicelli noodles, jellies and basil seeds.
As we just had a vegetarian dinner, I thought we might as well continue with a vegetarian dessert. We took on two of their specialties - one being the Chocolate Kulfi with Faloodeh and the other a Mango and Lychee Kulfi.
Chocolate has a natural affinity for spices, especially sweet spices like cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, cloves etc. The Chocolate Kulfi had a top note of cardamon and was complimented by small cubes of jelly, rose syrup, basil seeds and pistachio nuts. If I wasn't mistaken, there was also a hint of rose water on my palate; otherwise it could have been interference from the sweet incense that perfumed the cafe.
I loved the Mango Lychee Kulfi better as I liked the sweet rich mango puree that synergised very well with the creamy malty taste of the kulfi. The lychees were perked up by the ice cream and mango puree and the floral aromas of the fruit harmonised well into the combination. A generous topping of toasted almonds sealed in the pleasure of this lovely dessert.
To balance out the sweetness of the ice creams, we ordered two of their special teas: a Honey, Lime and Ginger Tea (a fresh calamansi lime and ginger infusion) and an unsweetened Mint Tea that tasted not only of fresh mint leaves but also had notes of eucalyptus oil which creates the "cooling" effect on the palate as the tea trickles down your throat. Both teas were served in traditional brass mugs crafted with Indian artistry.
The little cafe also serves simple chaats or literally the Indians's version of Tapas - small bites such as samosas, pakoras and puris. There are also simple sandwiches and wraps with Indian flavours and condiments of course!
15 Upper Dickson Road
Tel : 6294 2334
Opening Hours 11am -10pm
|Coolchef is a local professional chef who cooks, blogs, educates & lives life to the fullest with his wife in Singapore. A former CIA & SHATEC alumni, accredited with the Global Chefs Advisory Board, at-Sunrice The Singapore Culinary Academy, Coolchef seeks out gastronomic experiences and picks up culinary knowledge of different cuisines from his work in different countries during the course of his career. Keen to share his knowledge and expertise, Coolchef is also a visiting Guest Chef Instructor with People's Association.
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