India is one of the fastest-growing ice-cream markets and consumers in its cities do not mind splurging on quality and brand value

Flavour of all seasons: How India came to love ice creams

Don’t like chocolate? Not a fan of vanilla? Maybe you’re into fruit-flavoured ones? No matter what you like, there is a taste for everyone.

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

Ice cream is the perfect treat for all seasons. In the summer, you can cool off from a delicious scoop and in the winter, you can enjoy your favourite slice of hot pie with a scoop of ice cream.

With severe heat waves across North India, ice cream sales have surged. “The temperatures are soaring and so is demand for cold beverages especially ice-creams, sorbets and fresh fruit crushes. To ensure there is enough variety for the calorie conscious we have introduced a sugar free variety this year which is made with low fat cream such as melon and kala khatta at Rs 299 plus taxes,” says Sumit Gogia, general manager of Four Points by Sheraton Delhi.

Ice cream can be served many different ways- in a cup, in a cone, in a double cone. It’s not only great by itself, but works well in certain combinations. Slap a scoop of vanilla bean on your piece of cake, try mint ice cream with a rich brownie, make that stuffed crepe even better with a scoop of chocolate ice cream—the possibilities are truly endless.

Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi says the ice cream legend is that it originated in Persia and it was collected by the Roman Emperor Nero from the Apennine Mountains. Sokhi’s favourite ice creams are lemon-flavoured ones and the non-dairy sorbets—tastes that are fat free. “When it comes to India we love our ice creams but what excites people are kulfis as they can be made at home too. The art of making kulfi itself remains unique, in Delhi and Northern regions the Tile Wali Kulfi is a favourite of all and there are Kulfi chains that have developed from these kulfis,” says Sokhi.

Ice creams In India

India is one of the fastest-growing ice-cream markets and consumers in its cities do not mind splurging on quality and brand value. This has given foreign ice cream brands an opening in the Indian market. “The estimated Indian ice cream market size is around Rs 25,000 crore in FY2022 [Financial Year 2021-22]. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.89% between 2023 to 2028,” said a spokesperson for TechSci Research, a market research and management consulting firm.

“Over the last decade, there have been new subcategories consisting of frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbets, shrikhand, etc joining the ice cream category as the significant subcategory. Manufacturers have introduced preservative-free, genetically modified organism (GMO)-free, dairy-free, fat-free, and organic product varieties in response to increased health awareness and lactose intolerance among the people, contributing to market expansion across the country,” said the spokesperson.

Premium ice cream brands in India include Baskin Robbins, Dinshaw’s, Movenpick, Häagen-Dazs, Cold Stone Creamery, New Zealand Naturals, London Dairy. The other popular ones include Kwality Walls, Creambell, Mother Dairy, Vadilal, Havemore, Amul, Naturals. American multinational chain Baskin-Robbins is known to offer 31 flavours. Movenpick is a brand of ice cream of Swiss origin produced by Nestle, made without artificial additives, flavourings or colours. American brand Haagen-Dazs started with only three flavours of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, way back in 1976 in Brooklyn, New York but today is well known for a wide range of ice creams and cold desserts esp. coffee and Dulce de Leche ice cream.

Until a decade ago, ice creams were limited to vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavours with some additional types like Kesar, pista, mango, elaichi, traditional kulfi etc. In recent years, the market has transformed. Brands like Naturals are known for innovative flavours and their bestsellers include tender coconut and sitaphal apart from mango and kesar pista. According to Siddhant Kamath, Director at Naturals Ice Cream, “We make ice cream using only three ingredients- milk, sugar and fruits which is our USP. We have taken inspiration from kulfi and stuck it to the original way of making ice creams, in batches.”

Health meets taste

There many ways to make ice creams healthy. “The sugar quotient can be significantly reduced and substituted with healthy sweetening alternatives like honey, dates, stevia etc. When making ice-cream, ensure that the ingredients used are of the highest quality. For example, for a simple vanilla ice-cream, I’d recommend the use of good quality vanilla bean pods for maximum flavour. The very base of the ice-cream can be made vegan / dairy-free using frozen fruits such as bananas, mangoes, coconut milk, nut milks and almond milk. Even the flavour additives used can be healthy and need not be high on calories,” says Rajesh Wadhwa, executive chef at Taj Palace in New Delhi.

Yoghurt-based ice creams are delicious and healthy as well. Greek yogurt adds a wonderful tang to the dessert. Sorbets are a great alternative to regular ice-creams and the natural sweetness of the fruit being used can be leveraged.

You can even make your ice creams at home. Chef Kunal Kapur shares a few tips and tricks to make the perfect ice creams. He says, “One of the things is to use lots of fruit, ones which are naturally thickening like mangoes, cheekus which would have less of ice crystals. Use milk substitutes which could be almond milk, cashew milk, mixed nut milk, oat milk as they also make ice creams tastier. Usually, we add thickeners or cream to make ice creams creamy. In order to avoid adding cream, you can add very little custard powder or corn-starch, mix into the milk and thicken the milk with that.”

Ice creams can last weeks and even months in the freezer and can be enjoyed time and time again. You can pick up an ice cream tub on the go as brands have developed good packaging and cold storage. Here multi-compression and evaporator systems are used to store the cold desserts and other frozen goods. Further advancements in ice cream refrigeration processes are being created as technology changes. Says Naturals’ Kamath, “Our family packs (500gms) was a big hit and it was built tough to avoid tampering and make it delivery friendly especially due to the emergence of online aggregators. Then we introduced Mini packs (300gms) keeping in mind value and nuclear families it was an instant hit as people were looking for packed products and this was delivery friendly as well. Today mini packs contribute 8-10% of sales.”

Ice cream in moderation is just fine. As someone said, the best part of tooth extraction is that you are prescribed an ice cream.

Source: Business Standard

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