Two memorable desserts

Every now and then I go back to the restaurant I consider Mumbai’s finest. The dessert sticks to my mind as much as to the rest of me. This time was no exception. I’d been there twice in the same week, which is a bit of overkill. My excuse? The first time was a dinner with colleagues after work, the second with family. One of the things I like about this place are the very helpful suggestions made by the staff. The first time we went, everyone wanted a dessert by themselves. The server suggested that after a big meal some of the desserts could be shared. He was right.

There is a lot of turnover in the menu, so going back makes sense. The family dinner ended with two desserts I’d never had before. The strawberry cassata (featured photo) was a playful nod at the famous dessert of the 1970s, when, for the first time one could have an ice cream flavour other than vanilla and chocolate in India. This was a modern version, fabulously light and fresh, a tart taste of the fruit uppermost, with the crunchy nuts supplying a very satisfactory finish. The other was a great take on the other Mumbai special: a falooda. This was The Family’s favourite growing up, and I’m just a johnny-come-late to the Badshah falooda. So I’ll just quote her: “Damn good.”

What to drink in Madurai

When you do the simplest of searches on Madurai you come up with the unexpected word jigarthanda. “Cold heart” may be an exact translation, but I decided that “Soul soother” captures the meaning better. There are many recipes which you can find, but most agree that you need ice cream, almond gum (badam pisin) and nannari sharbat. Nannari is sarsaparilla. I could not figure out a Hindi name for it, so I don’t know whether it is used in north India.

Jigarthanda was as interesting as it was billed to be. But for a resident of Mumbai it was not a surprise; everyone will recognize it as a falooda. Is it exactly the same as a falooda? Perhaps not, and the need to make taste comparisons can keep your soul happy.

The other specialty of Madurai is the bottled drink called Bovonto. We saw this on the beaches of Pamban, but the bottles weren’t terribly well chilled. We waited until we were on its home ground to order a bottle with a lunch. And then we ordered a second.