Ice creams and chilled desserts continued to be something of a luxury and novelty in plantation homes for a long time after refrigeration became easily available elsewhere, mainly due to the erratic power supply in these remote locations.
Before the arrival of refrigerators, using a hand-cranked wooden ice cream churn was the only way to add a touch of luxury to summer parties. One could borrow a churn from the Club, the centre of all social activity, and try to invent something unusual to surprise guests in ‘a small community continually re-meeting’, where anything out of the ordinary, culinary or otherwise, was looked forward to eagerly to relieve the monotony of routine.
I’ve chosen a beautiful native fruit, the glossy purple Jamun, Syzygium cumini, found all over the country: deep, shiny purple skin with hints of red, violet stained flesh and a raspy sweetness that make it an exotic and extremely pretty ice cream with a lingering aftertaste. A pinch of sea salt scattered on top of a rounded scoop can give you the intense flavours of fresh Jamun bought and eaten dipped in salt from a vendor’s cart. It’s a fruit forever associated with late summer, falling heavily from tall trees to burst on the earth, leaving pinkish purple stains everywhere. The heat in the hills can be intense, sending the countryside into a humming, dazed slumber. A summer afternoon on a deep verandah, sunk into a cane chair, a cool, lilac tinged spoonful of ice cream flecked with fragments of deep purple skin, gazing out at smudged blue hills lost in a haze of cloud can create one of those effortless moments of perfect happiness.
Cook's Note : Jamun has a high water content, so consume the ice cream within 2 weeks, before it begins to form ice crystals.
Image Credits: Nithin Sagi