Have you ever wondered what a “cassata” is?
By definition, it is a Sicilian dessert which has a sponge cake, covered in layers of ice cream, dried fruits and nuts. The flavours of ice cream can vary, depending on the intended outcome. In India, the most popular being the rainbow cassata. Now, as far as i remember, these were usually square, semicircle or rectangle in shape, made to resemble a “slice”. I quite like them actually; its fun to eat as it looks good, tastes appealing and also has cake.
The owner of Taj Ice cream at Bohri ilaka, Bhendi bazaar may beg to differ. He says a casatta should be round as opposed to a “slice”. A round casatta? Like a ball? He isn’t Italian; he must have good reason to make such a claim, right?
Turns out he does. How?
> .He claims to be the first to introduce it in Mumbai at his outlet, a 125 year old ice cream institution which churns out some of the best ice cream around.
>. This man has Ice cream in his blood. Literally.
Mustaffa Abbas Icecreamwala, the owner of The legendary “Taj” ice cream parlour, Mumbai.
Mr Icecreamwala is a member of the exclusive Bohri community. Native to Maharashtra and Gujarat, Bohris follow Islam, but in some ways, are different from the other communities that do so. You might identify them by their head wear, which is very different to the usual bold-coloured ones. They are usually business-centric families,where the responsibilities of trade are handled by sons, after their fathers. Mr. Icecreamwala himself has been running a 125 year old family business, started 5 generations before him by his forefathers. When it comes to food, they believe in keeping it simple. Their diet is less saltier and lighter than other Muslim delicacies. Salads are always indluded in a meal and they take their sweets very seriously, coming up with desserts such as shir quorma, a milk and sugar based dessert. Their food philosophy is quite interesting: lighter and less spicy food keeps the mind calm, in turn leading to better focus in life and mainly, in business.
This is why Taj ice cream has become a Mumbai institution.
Taj is known, specifically for their fruit flavours . Once sampled, its not hard to wonder why. The ice cream itself is hand churned using a long forgotten contraption called a Sancha (manually-churned Indian ice cream maker). It uses crushed ice to turn sweetended condensed milk (no egg yolks) into a rich, creamy final product. Flavours are incorporated using real fruits as opposed to artificial concentrates and colouring. Mr. Icecreamwala ensures he gets top quality fruits throughout the year. This includes alphonso mangoes in winter and fresh strawberries in summer. Only he knows how and from where. Flavours range from chocolate, mango, strawberry to the elusive sitaphal (custard apple), a flavour which was made famous by Chef Manish himself at Indian Accent. Ironically, both gentlemen are products of the illustrious catering college, IHM, Mumbai. This isn’t your usual 30-something flavours, gelato in a waffle-cone or cup sort of thing. It’s simply ice cream, priced like ice cream should be priced. Simple and plain unassuming ice cream, made by a member of a very simple enterprising community. Icecreamwala is their name and churning out delicious ice cream is their game.
Sometimes, Ice cream runs thicker than blood.