new creamy layer
Seema Batish sharma
The new creamy
Scream for an ice cream when you are feeling hot and sweaty and you’ll never go wrong! Nothing beats the heat more than a delicious scoop of your favourite ice cream. As temperatures sour, these chilled desserts look scoopaluscious! Frothy, fluffy scoops of melt-in-the mouth ice cream, swirly softies with crunchy cones, tangy lick-lollies (with the Indian cousin barf ka gola), the humble faluda kulfi, and of course, the lovable choco bar, have been perennial favourites. However, with a rise in disposable incomes, consumers are increasingly valuing the finer nuances associated with this frozen delight. Apart from quality itself, the ice cream eating experienc is becoming important. Young Indians now seek an exclusive and exotic ice cream-eating experience.
Which is why, Michelin-starred chefs are busy making fancy concoctions. Vineet Bhatia’s rose-petal, marigold ice cream, appears as an accompaniment to the main courses at his restaurants. At The Park, Kolkata, executive chef Kaushik Saha uses ingredients like black pepper, rasmalai, chillis and vegetable pickles to whip up ice creams.
Looking at the appetite of a growing section of consumers seeking a luxury experience, a host of companies are hopping on the gourmet ice cream bandwagon. Fruity sorbets, Italian gelatos, frozen yoghurts and even jazzed-up versions of our own kulfi, are stepping up to the palate.
With the buyers spoilt for choice, we enter the chill-out zone to taste these delights.
Bye bye grab-a-scoop shops
Baskin Robbins was among the first few premium ice creams (pegged at Rs 30 a scoop) to enter the Indian market in 1993. However, Indians with a sweet tooth can now dig into a tub of expensive ecstasy. The world-famous gourmet ice cream H`E4agen-Dazs, with its myriad flavours, has been launched in India (New Delhi and Mumbai) in 2009. Available across 900 boutique shops in more than 50 countries; this brand is luxurious — costing roughly Rs 195 per scoop! "Since its inception in 1961, H`E4agen-Dazs has continually offered an exceptional dessert experience— a ‘H`E4agen-Dazs Moment,’. Call it the Louis Vuitton kind of experience. It’s meant for discerning consumers, who seek exotic, exclusive and sophisticated options," smiles Arindam Haldar, director, General Mills, the food conglomerate behind the brand.
The use of ingredients from around the world — be it dark chocolate from Belgium or Macadamia nuts from the world’s best regions — make this ice cream special. H`E4agen-Dazs has a rigorous quality testing Gold Standard Protocol and says no to artificial flavours and colours. Its trump card, however, are the customised Haagen-Dazs lounges that offer a fine-dining ambience. You can sit back, relax and savour a signature dessert, which costs you anywhere between Rs 600 to Rs 1,400.
Interestingly though, the words Haagen-Dazs have no meaning whatsoever. The name was coined by the company because the words sounded good. The ice cream’s menu features flavours Belgian Chocolate, Apricot, Macadamia Nut, Dulce de Leche, Green Tea, Cr`E8me Brulee and Chocolat Fondant. It offers signature creations like ‘Seventh Heaven’ —a delectable offering of seven choicest flavours and ‘Mystique’— a concoction of Belgian chocolate and raspberry sorbet.
Another international ice cream maker, London Dairy, is wooing Indians with international flavours like Butter Pecan, Tiramisu, Bravo Biscottino and California Raisins (a 500 ml London Dairy tub costs around Rs 250 and a litre around Rs 475).
In their quest for winning flavours, ice cream manufacturers are serving up scoops of exotic, Indianised flavours. Amul is offering fare as varied as tubs of Morroccan Dry Fruit. Vadilal’s gourmet tubs are its high-end offering, with flavours like Belgian Chocolate and Java Chips. Mother Dairy has launched savoury Gol Gappa candy sticks and Paan kulfis. But the real show stealers are Mumbai-based Natural Ice creams, offering an array of flavours— Watermelon, Chikoo, Kala-Jamun, Sitaphal, even Saunf—with chunks of the seasonal fruits embedded in its tubs. Their Kaaju Kishmish and Anjeer are hotsellers.
Calcutta-based Fruity Freeze has an assortment of ice creams in flavours like Aam Panna, Rabdi Malai, Nimbu Paani, Jalebi and Rajbhog. Delhi-based Gelato Vinto has a range of local flavours including Chikoo, Coconut and Cardamom. Fresh & Naturelle’s Pabrai’s Nolen Gur ice cream is served with chunks of jaggery in it. They also have Chandan and Rose sugarfree ice creams.
With the cr`E8me de la cr`E8me savouring gourmet ice creams, urbanites are gravitating towards frozen yogurts. According to a Technopak report, the Indian yogurt market was estimated at $135 million in 2011 and expanding at a 25-30 per cent annually.
The pioneer in introducing the frozen yogurt fad, of course, is 39-year-old GS Bhalla, who launched Cocoberry in 2009. Churned in a soft-serve machine, this dessert comes with berry-infused flavours that pair wonderfully with droolworthy garnishes. "While cocoa is an anti-depressant, berries signify exotic, antioxidant-rich toppings," smiles Bhalla, an MBA from Harvard Business School.
The brand primarily sells frozen yogurt in 100 ml, 300 ml and 500 ml containers that retail at prices from Rs 32 to Rs 239. It offers an assortment of yogurt cones, sundaes, parfaits and smoothies, crammed with fresh exotic fruits, skimmed milk, an array of fruit purees and healthy toppings. Cocoberry`A0boasts of over 1.1 million Facebook fans, which is the world’s largest fan-base of any frozen yogurt brand!
Indians are enjoying power smoothies, gourmet waffles and pro biotic parfaits as breakfast options. Recently, US-based yogurt and smoothie brand Red Mango set shop in Delhi. It boasts of being the first 100 per cent natural, low fat and gluten-free frozen yogurt. "Our tag line, ‘Rethink Lunch!’ aims at offering yogurts as a healthy meal. We’ve also started a self-vending machine, where customers can pay 89 paisa per gm," says Rahul Kumar, CEO, Red Mangoes, India.
Red Mango yogurts use the finest ingredients like Vanilla imported from Madagascar and strawberries from Sonoma in California. Of the 200 cups that Red Mango sells daily, Blueberry Yogurt moves very fast.
South Korean yoghurt chain Yogurberry is also offering smoothies, parfaits, fruit-bowls, waffles, fruit salads and pro-biotic beverages. Among yogurts, its Punchy Pomegranate is particularly good. Ameer Husain, business head of Yogurberry, India, says "We’re soon launching Yogurberry in caf`E9 formats that are ideal for meal consumption."
Hugely popular frozen yogurt flavours include strawberry, blueberry, mango, green apple, pineapple and even chocolate. Toppings — collectively there are 100 garnishes to choose from — go from fresh fruits to the trademark Oreo cookies. Weight-watchers can skip fattening jujubes and chocolate sprinkles and opt for freshly cut fruits, cereals and dried fruits.
Seema Batish sharma
SHE has left her green stamp on 90 per cent of the units in Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park. This 35-year-old landscape architect’s high-profile client list includes corporate biggies like Infosys, Bharti Airtel, Parsvnath Prideasia, Netsmartz, DLF Info City, Groz Beckert, Ranbaxy, Grasim Industries, Aditya Birla Group and Bharat Petroleum Corp. She has also lent her greening acumen to several projects of the Punjab government and Chandigarh administration.
Armed with a formal education in design technology, landscaping, architecture, environment studies and a passion for turning barrenness into a green, Seema Batish Sharma has come a long way since she took up her first assignment of designing a huge cascade for an ashram in Faridabad in 2001. Today, this Chandigarh-based landscape designer heads her company Merry Mind Landscapes and has on board a team of 28 experts on architecture, environment and horticulture.
One of her most satisfying assignments was the greening of the Aditya Birla cement unit in the dry Bathinda belt. The more challenging a task, the more rewarding it is for the mentalscape, she ardently admits. Working on Punjab Forest Complex, the first green building in the state, was another project dear to her. Currently, one of her main projects is the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur War Memorial at Chappar Chiri village, near Mohali.
"Landscaping today has become a byword for technology. It is no longer eyebrow-raising to arrange grown-up trees, readymade lawns, colourful flowerbeds, exotic water bodies and artifacts at a day’s notice," muses this aesthete. She has catered to this demand several times, including when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the IT Park in Chandigarh. Infosys and some other projects in the Park had been greened overnight due to paucity of time.
Seema remains partial to trees and plants such as bel patra, neem, peepal (which emits oxygen even during night) and the triphla trio of harad, behada and amla that reduce pollution and are eco-friendly. The pollen spread from these trees is healthy and the honey is A-class, asserts the green expert. Every project is a new test, she professes, as every client has his or her own set of demands, budget and the site, too, is different each time. "Invariably, every client comes up with the demand of ‘I want something different’. That sure is a tall order, but it keeps us on our toes," she smiles as she recalls how she made it to her sites even when she was confined to a wheelchair for a few months after a road accident some years ago.
Seema has many a design up her sleeve, but her immediate plans include vertical gardening (on walls, pillars, etc) and providing compact readymade 2x3 feet gardens to apartment dwellers.
Hollywood, scriptwriter Richard Maibum once said that the legend of James Bond would go on forever. "Some characters become immortal— characters like Robin Hood, Three Musketeers, Sherlock Holmes and now, James Bond." Maibum’s prophesy has come true as 2012 marks the 50th year of James Bond on the silver screen. From Dr No in 1962 to the upcoming Skyfall in October 2012, there have been 23 Bond films and six actors have played Agent 007.
Back in 1960, Sean Connery — at that time a struggling Scottish actor — was selected to play the part after producer Albert R. Broccoli saw him in a small role in the movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People. He was impressed with the way Connery handled the fight scenes. But he wasn’t sure if this man would appeal to women. So he took his wife along to see the movie and she approved.
When the film was shown to James Bond creator Ian Fleming, he was not impressed with Connery and uttered in anger, "He’s not what I envisioned of James Bond looks. I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man!" However, Broccoli somehow convinced Fleming and Connery was signed for the Dr No.Yet, doubts persisted, not just of the choice of Connery as Bond but also whether the movie would do well. Little did the two realise that they were about to create cinematic history. Dr No took the world by a storm when it was released in 1962 and the legend of James Bond was established from the first film itself. Connery would go on to star as Bond in films like From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
Though the films made him a big international star, he began tiring of the role that he thought had typecast him as a British spymaster. He wanted to break free and the hunt began for a new actor to play Agent 007.
The Second Bond
The choice fell on an Australian model George Lazenby, who was signed for the starring role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby had come to London in 1964, the year James Bond author Ian Fleming died and Perce Brosnon—the fourth Bond-to-be—was 11-years-old. Though he had no previous experience of acting, apart from doing television commercials, Lazenby did a decent job of the role. In fact, many consider On Her Majesty’s Secret Service one of the best Bond films ever. Though he was offered a seven film deal by Eon Productions, Lazenby felt that the Bond character had outlived itself and would fade away soon. He refused to sign the contract and paved the way for Roger Moore, a misjudgment he regrets till today.
Roger Moore was to become the longest serving Agent 007. In fact, when his 12-year-long tenure ended, he had done seven Bond films — Live and Let Die, Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. He was also the oldest Bond having started at 45 in 1973 and retiring at 58 in 1985.
Having been an established British television star in superhot detective series The Saint and Maverick, the Bond role came easy to Moore. Despite being oldest of the actors who had played Bond, Moore brought a lightness and youthful vitality to his performances. However, when Octopussy was released, Moore was 58. Thus started yet another search for a new Bond. This time the choice curiously fell on Timothy Dalton, a serious Shakespearean actor of note.
Expectedly, the two films that Dalton did as Bond — The Living Daylights and A Licence to Kill — were in sharp contrast to the humour-and-wit loaded Roger Moore era. This was a brooding, dour Bond who was grittier and less jokey. The witty lines were thrown out as Dalton concentrated on killing without mercy. Broccoli felt that he was closer to the Bond envisaged by author Ian Fleming.
The first Dalton-starrer The Living Daylights was a smash-hit and became the fourth most successful Bond film ever. The second one, A Licence to Kill, though critically acclaimed, did not do too well in America and was thus not as successful. Dalton was contracted to do three films but the third Goldeneye was delayed by four years and by that time, he got involved in other projects. He surprised everyone by announcing that he was no longer interested.
Pierce Brosnon, the man who had played detective Remington Steele with such aplomb in the hit television series of the same name, became the fifth actor and perhaps the most suave of all earlier Bonds.
In fact, nobody was surprised when Brosnon’s choice was announced. Though names like Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis were thrown up, it was a foregone conclusion that Brosnon was a dead ringer for the role, ever since Dalton refused to do more Bond films. "He is the archetypal Bond," said Broccoli of Brosnon. "The same features, the same quirky humour, the same rugged good looks, the right credentials. In fact he is just the right man to carry on the Bond tradition." GoldenEye, Brosnon’s first film as Bond, grossed $350 million (Rs 1,750 crore) worldwide, becoming one of the most successful Bond films. He did three more — Tommorow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. They all did good business but could not match the boxoffice collections of the GoldenEye. However, Brosnon decided to quit as he was touching 50 and did not want to risk another action-packed thriller.
Youngest Agent 007
The boards were cleared for the sixth — and the current — incarnation of Bond. Daniel Craig became the first Bond to have been born (1968) much after author Ian Fleming had died and all of his original novels had been made into movies. But when his name was announced, Bond fans protested that he was not the archetype Bond. He certainly did not have the looks to match his predecessors. Fans threatened to boycott his first film as Agent 007.
Much to the surprise of doomsayers, Casino Royale, Craig’s first film as Bond, raked in more than $600 million (Rs 3,000 crore) at the boxoffice, becoming the highest grosser of all Bond films. The 22nd Bond film Quantum of Solace was a sequel to Casino Royale and was the second most profitable.
Over the years, Craig has built a passionate following and even though he has switched from the iconic Vodka Martinis to Heineken lager, fans are awaiting Craig’s third Bond starrer Skyfall to be released in October 2012. He’ll be further immortalising the Bond saga in two more films after Skyfall. In fact, it has been an enduring love affair that generations of cinemagoers have had with the man who likes his Martini shaken, not stirred whose iconic introduction is "The name’s Bond. James Bond." And who seemingly has the licence to kiss, kill and crack dreadful jokes later.