Making Memories Across Generations At New Kulfi Centre

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MAKING MEMORIES ACROSS GENERATIONS AT NEW KULFI CENTRE

New Kulfi Centre is a small kulfi store opposite Girgaon Chowpatty. You can get kulfi here in individual servings or by the kilo, with two sugar-free varieties for the health conscious. While they also serve three varieties of falooda, the kulfi – as their name suggests – draws the biggest crowds.

New Kulfi Centre, 556, Marina Mansion, Sukh Sagar, SVP Road, Girgaum, Mumbai 400 007. Phone: 022 2368 4291

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR’S STORY

My memories of New Kulfi Centre opposite Chowpatty Beach are irrevocably tangled up with my father. Rain or shine, day or night, every time my father is in Mumbai, he will insist on taking me to this little hole-in-the-wall at the corner of the Chowpatty signal and Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel Road to eat the “best kulfi in Bombay!” He’s not wrong. With its list of flavoured kulfi ranging from Butter Scotch, Royal Banana and Chikoo to Kaju Anjeer, Kesar Badam Pista and Sitafal, there isn’t another place that can compare in range and certainly not in taste. They’ll even add some falooda to your plate for an extra 10 rupees.

I’m going to level with you – I had never been a fan of kulfi. Every time I tried it, it was too icy or too sweet or just plain odd tasting. Which is why, the first time my father insisted on taking me there, I was more than a little unconvinced that I would like it, however good he may claim it to be. I was wrong. In the heat and humidity that is always Mumbai, this frozen milky dessert is a piece of heaven. I still remember my first bite – it was like one of those ludicrous scenes in the movies – I heard angels singing, violins playing, and I’m pretty sure I saw the light. Yes, it was that good – sweet without overpowering the flavour, cold and frozen without being so icy that I couldn’t even break it with a spoon, and completely and utterly delicious.

The anticipation is nearly tangible as each person is quickly handed a plate by the cheerful staff that work there. I wait as my friends take their first bite.

Just before I started college, my father once again took me down to this corner shop. There’s no seating, and my father and I placed our orders whilst standing on the street, looking up at the man seated on the raised platform that is the store, surrounded by his numerous containers of kulfi and weighing scales. We watched as he unerringly pulled out the right containers from the dozens around him and extracted our disk-shaped portions and measured them before neatly slicing them all up. A spoon was stuck in each plate before they were handed to us and we were ready to dig in.

Between bites, my father told me of how, during his own college days, decades ago, he and his friends used to come to this exact spot to eat this exact same kulfi all the time. It is a rare moment; my father looks at me but at the same time doesn’t. His eyes are far away, and I know that he is living in two temporal realities simultaneously, at once college student and professor, teenager and father, bound together by the quickly disappearing sweet and frozen dessert on his plate.

A year later, I drag my own college friends to the same place with the promise that they’ll never find better kulfi. I watch their skepticism morph into excitement as they pore over the menu with exclamations of “Pista! Yeeees!” and “What is chocolate kulfi!? I must know!” I grin as I order my favourite malai. As we wait, I tell them the story of my father, of his history and mine centered around this single spot. They listen seriously, knowing the importance of this moment to me – the joining of two worlds.

In the heat and humidity that is always Mumbai, this frozen milky dessert is a piece of heaven.

We stand together, slowly melting in the heat of the summer evening, talking of everything from lectures to movies as we wait. The anticipation is nearly tangible as each person is quickly handed a plate by the cheerful staff that work there. I wait as my friends take their first bite. There is a moment of silence (which I’d like to think is tinged with awe) before one of them turns to me with wide eyes and exclaims, “Oh my god, what is this magic!?”

I laugh so hard I nearly drop my kulfi.

As I watch my friends devour their desserts, I look around and smile, knowing that in another time – but bound by this same little hole-in-the-wall – my father once stood here with his friends, eating and laughing, making memories he would one day pass on. I wonder if I am doing the same. It’s lovely how food has the power to bring people closer together.

And so, in the dying sun, in true poetic form, I raise my last piece of malai deliciousness in a silent toast to my father and the best kulfi in the city.

Feature photo copyright espies – stock.adobe.com

 
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