Almond House or Badam Ghar is a brand familiar to most Hyderabadis. Although it never reached the cult status of the likes of Karachi Bakery or Paradise Biryani, Almond House has always had its own fan base. The venerable institution, famous for its Almond Bisticks, recently launched its own premium ice cream brand called Indulge. The first Indulge store is housed inside Almond House’s Banjara Hills showroom – tucked to the right of the existing sweet shop and confectionary. I was invited to experience the flavours offered by Indulge Ice Cream and landed there last week, on a rather stormy afternoon.
The weather outside was gloomy, but the brightly lit store was buzzing with activity. The ice cream section hasn’t been dedicated a lot of store area, and most of it is taken up by the display. However, there is an outdoor section with a couple of tables. At the moment, Indulge has fifteen flavours on offer, including three Sorbettos. All the ice creams are made in-house in ice cream makers placed right next to the display. Almond House claims that their ice creams contain no added flavours, essence, colour, or preservatives. Each batch of ice-cream is kept for a maximum of two days.
Sorbets and sorbettos are identical, with the difference lying in the country of origin of these words. Italians use the term sorbetto, while the French use the term sorbet. I began my tasting with the three sorbettos. The classic, tangy Fresh Lemon and Ginger Sorbetto works great as both a dessert and a palate cleanser. The Forrest Berry flavour has a little bit of cumin that lent it a surprise element. And, the Litchi Sorbetto is a bit of a fusion between a sorbet and an Ice Cream. It contains a little bit of milk that imparts a creaminess to the taste, but the texture still feels very much like that of a sorbet. The end result is an absolute delight – light, fruity, and delicious.
The ice cream flavours on offer are also quite distinctive. The Vanilla Bean is made from Kerala Vanilla pods, but the flavour and aroma of the Vanilla isn’t as intense as at Pabrai’s. It’d be blasphemy for a sister brand of Almond House to not have any almond on their menu. Indulge is using Almond House’s popular Almond Butter for its Rich Almond Butter ice cream. Tropical is the most colourful looking flavour on offer thanks to the Strawberry, Kiwi, and Mango sauces. This ice-cream is lighter and fluffier than the other flavours. The same base is also used for Stracciatella – a chocolate chip ice cream flavour that was inspired by the Italian egg drop soup of the same name. The chocolate is added towards the end of the churning process due to which the irregularly shaped, broken shards of chocolate create an abstract pattern somewhat like that of an egg drop soup.
Other Chocolate Flavours on offer are Roasted Cocoa Rich Chocolate and African Dark Chocolate with Smoked Almond. I’d have loved the dark chocolate to be even more bitter, but I loved the smoked almond bits in the ice cream.
Almond House also has quite a few Indian flavours on offer. Saffron and Rose offers a mild, aromatic flavour combination. The Bellam Kaju (Jaggery and Cashew) shines due to the unique taste of jaggery. The Qubani ka Meetha is an interesting creation that draws inspiration from the immensely popular, traditional Hyderabadi dessert made from Apricot. The Chikoo tastes fresh and fruity; however, to be honest, the flavour of the fruit is a lot milder than at Natural’s. I suspect this might be due to artificial taste enhancers in Natural’s, but I’d love it if Indulge can amp up the flavour of the fruit, or perhaps do a Sorbetto. The best of the lot are the Mango Chilli and South Indian Filter Coffee. Note to all the chilli fanatics in Hyderabad – this is not the kind of chilly that’ll make your throat burn. The chilly manifests in the form of a mild aftertaste that makes you want to dig in and have one more scoop. The South Indian Filter Coffee, on the other hand, has that intense coffee flavour that you want. Once again, this is a flavour I love at Pabrai’s. However, for this flavour, I’d pick Indulge over Pabrai’s due to its smooth, creamy texture.
All the flavours are priced at Rs. 120 for a 100-gramme portion. Ice Creams are served to you in beautiful ceramic cups with a cute little spoon. The ceramic cups are yours to take home. Curiously enough, the family pack is priced slightly higher at Rs. 500 for 400 grammes. The reason behind this is the family pack is served in a pretty looking ceramic vessel that’s also yours to take home. The vessel not only looks neat, but can be used for storing a myriad of things. I’m happy to see more and more ice-cream parlours in Hyderabad that shun the stoned ice-cream craze, and focus more on making better ice-creams with better flavours. These fresh, slow-churned ice creams taste a tad different from most commercial brands. I could immediately perceive that the difference in fat. However, this might be off-putting to some. Almond House has four more locations in the pipeline, and is also constantly looking to add more flavours. I was given a taste of their most recent experiment – Chai or Black Tea flavour. Once Sitaphal is easily available in the city, that might also become one of their new flavours.