Dynamic vegan menus
“Loitering the streets after school, a rapidly melting ice lolly coating our fingers as sweat dripped down our faces in the hot sun.” It is this nostalgia that gave birth to The Perf Ice Candy and the founder Sudharsan Hari thinks it is absolutely essential for school kids and adults to enjoy this little delight just as he did in his childhood. But he brings a healthy twist to this summertime treat with his handmade, vegan, chemical-free version.
Sudharsan is a one-man army at his five-month-old store, sourcing, producing and handling the marketing himself. “I source seasonal fruits and quality is of utmost importance,” he says. This makes his menu dynamic and every few months there is a new flavour awaiting his customers. The popular ones are tender coconut, pomegranate and lime. The menu sports a quirky combination that is grape and lemonade.
“I am looking to experiment with more fusion flavours in the next year,” says an excited Sudharsan. Talking about his top priority, he adds, “Ice candy needs to be equivalent to eating a fruit. It should be that healthy. I have developed a recipe where the entire sugar content of the ice candy, both natural and artificial, is only 20%. I am trying to develop a sugar-free option as well and there is plenty of demand for it.”
Nestled in a residential neighbourhood in Anna Nagar, the five-month-old store delivers through Swiggy, Dunzo and Zomato, apart from taking bulk orders for events and parties through their Instagram page. Between all these different platforms, Sudharsan says he sells about 40-50 ice candies in a day. In the next year Sudharsan is looking to expand through carts near schools and he is hopeful that by the end of this year customers can pick up a Perf Ice Candy from supermarkets. Priced between ₹30 and ₹60 per candy it aims to be a pocket-friendly option for students.
With its zippy menu of 12 flavours and newer ones on the horizon, The Perf Ice Candy is designed to offer something for everyone. You may get the sweet taste of nostalgia, novelty or just good old fruit.
Their Instagram handle is theperficecandy and (psst) this is the space to watch out for their free delivery drive that happens on Sundays.
Packing an Indian punch
In Besant Nagar, it’s cloudy with a chance of popsicles… buttermilk flavour to be precise. The Tickle Truck, the ice cream parlour on wheels, offers a selection of popsicles in interesting flavours such as charcoal (it’s got the rich taste of coconut milk), sugarcane, grape with pulp, pomegranate with pulp, mojito (lemon and mint pops sprinkled with their secret masala), deep blue twist (citric blue pops with sabja seeds), and their latest addition jaljeera is a weekly offering. “We’ve got 13 varieties so far. But we tried out around 100 combinations during our seven-month research period,” says Bharath Jaiyanth, who started this venture last May with Jesvin Prabhu and Shanmuga Pandian. The city by then had a fair share of food trucks as well as dessert parlours and the now 30-year-olds needed something a little different to get attention. “That’s how we came up with savoury popsicles,” says Jesvin. Since most countries have their own take on ice cream, the trio decided to create flavours with Indian influences. Jesvin hands out the enigmatic buttermilk ice cream. It’s called Mystery More (or you could say ‘give me more’ — that was a pun waiting to happen). It’s almost translucent white with bright yellow and green spots. Those are the kara boondi and coriander that are liberally peppered through. The popsicle is also sprinkled with red chilli powder. The first bite ends the suspense. It is a bizarre mix: a touch tangy, a whole lot creamy with the boondis and an occasional peanut packing a punch. At the end of the day, this is familiar comfort food in an unusual silhouette. A definite crowd pleaser on a balmy evening.
Find the Tickle Truck parked at 32nd Cross Street, Besant Nagar. Popsicles are priced at ₹30 onwards.
Over the past one year, the beaches of Puducherry have seen a yellow coloured Tata Nano, with the plate PY 01 BP 0231, puttering past its golden brown sands. What’s unusual about the car is that it is splattered with all the colours of the rainbow, and its roof holds up a giant popsicle-shaped light. This is the car that is home to XOXO Pops, a Puducherry-based “handcrafted popsicle brand, known for using all-natural ingredients.
“We started XOXO Pops a year and a half ago. Back then I was just “25, and I didn’t have enough money to buy an ice-cream parlour. So my best bet was to buy this second hand Nano,” says founder Arjun Viswanathan. He goes on to explain how he took out the back seat of the car and put a freezer in that space “instead.
An IT professional, who now works out of Pune, Arjun started the brand with Senthil, his brother, a marine engineer, as a side project. His brother designs the menus, while his partner, Soorya KumarSurya” handles operations. “I was actually” working on a project that would scan a product’s ingredients to determine its calorie content. My clients were based in the US, where everything natural is all the rage now. So “I thought, why not make something organic for Indian children too?” he says. And “That’s how Arjun settled on what probably is embedded in each of our childhood memories: plain old “popsicles.
He set out with the aim of using real fruits without any colouring agents or artificial sweeteners. “We tried using exotic fruits like strawberries or blueberries, but that would increase the price point a lot”. So we ended up using what we could source locally: watermelons, musk melons, lemons, grapes and so on,” he says. Their modus operandi is simple: source, cut, squeeze and freeze. To sweeten the popsicles, they currently add cane sugar or honey.
Their most popular flavour is watermelon-kiwi, which has a single round slice of kiwi surrounded by frozen watermelon juice. Other flavours include mango, mango pineapple-chilli and grape-mint.
Though the company is Puducherry-based, they plan to open another kitchen in Chennai within the next two months. They have also previously catered to Four Seasons, Anna Nagar, to make transparent lemon popsicles with fruit slices inside. “Right now, we deliver to Chennai if we get a bulk order of 500-800 popsicles,” he says.
XOXO Pops can be contacted at 7540024003, or email firstname.lastname@example.org