City Food – Honey & Fig Ice Cream, India International Centre
The choice of the intellectuals.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is a special dish in Delhi’s most exclusive cultural space. The honey & fig ice cream is made for the members-only dining room of the Indian International Centre (IIC), a club for novelists, historians, professors, journalists, publishers and out-of-work bureaucrats and politicians.
While it is fashionable for the restaurant’s ancient patrons to whisper that the ‘service has slipped’, the honey & fig ice cream continues to be admired. According to the management, everyday more than half of the diners end their meals with this sweetened course, though there are choices, including the delicious ginger pudding with hot custard sauce.
The elderly regulars talk of the honey & fig with such wistfulness that you might take it to be as old as the IIC that opened in 1962. The dessert arrived in 2005.
Each morning the kitchen’s ice cream machine swallows one litre honey, 5 kg fig and 25 kg milk to produce this dream. It secretes the very nucleus of grace.
Amid the clatter of gleaming silvers and the murmurings of the white-haired intellectuals, you experience a most tender sweetness of the honeyed cream. The braised figs are tough to comprehend. Cleopatra’s favourite fruit, the fig stays longer in the mouth, yet it does not leave behind even a faint hint of its essence, which vanishes as your thoughts are still preparing to respond to the sensations. The effect is mysterious, beautiful and fleeting.
In March 2012, the IIC, hoping to create a new tradition, introduced the jaggery & ginger ice cream.
It is the old classic you must taste before you die.
Note: If not a member of the IIC, ask a member-friend to treat you to the ice cream. Priced at Rs 57, the single portion of the ice cream has two scoops.
Where The restaurant in India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg Time 12.30 pm to 2.45 pm, 7.30 pm to 10 pm Nearest Metro Station Khan Market/Jor Bagh
7 (That’s my hair).