Pabrai’s Fresh & Naturelle has made a name for its unique flavours that are often inspired by local Indian fruits, spices, and even food. Pabrai’s comes from the family behind the legendary Tulika Ice Creams of Kolkata that took the city by storm in the 80s and 90s, but eventually lost out to new-age competitors. Pabrai’s currently has a presence in nine cities across the country with the recently opened outlet at Madhapur making the tenth. Hyderabad got its first taste of Pabrai’s through a franchise at Sindhi Colony. Unfortunately, that store was shuttered within months. The new franchise owner Harshitha Nalam promises that this time, Pabrai’s is in it for the long haul with more locations in the pipeline.
I was invited to a tasting session to explore the different flavours that Pabrai’s has on offer and get an insight into the brand. For any Bengali, the biggest draw of Pabrai’s is undoubtedly the Nolen Gurer Ice Cream. Nolen Gur, which is jaggery prepared from the sap of date palm (khejur) tree, is a highly prized, seasonal ingredient used in Bengali desserts. Previously available only during the winter, modern preservation techniques has now enabled the production of Nolen Gur desserts through the year. Although much of the aroma of Nolen Gur is lost during this preservation process, the flavour is still very much there. Pabrai’s Nalen Gur Ice Cream comes with real bits of Nolen Gur and is an absolute treat. Since my first visit, I’ve already gone back to Pabrai’s half a dozen times just for the Nalen Gur flavour.
Nolen Gur isn’t the only food or food ingredient that that Pabrai’s has on offer. Paan ice creams are quite common these days. However, you still can’t help but be impressed with the Paan flavour at Pabrai’s, which apparently uses 17 different ingredients that are used in making Paan. Another favourite of mine is the South Indian coffee. This flavour lives up to its name and succeeds in providing the intense flavour South Indian Filter Coffee in every scoop. Chandan (Sandalwood) is another unique creation, which manages to pack in not only the aroma of sandalwood but also its taste! They also have another Bengali flavour – Gondhoraj Lemon, on their menu. However, it isn’t yet available in Hyderabad.
Pabrai’s is one of the few ice cream parlours to experiment with Indian spices. Their menu has offerings such as Cinnamon, Aniseed, Black Sesame, and Five Spice (Paanch Phoron). It also features flavours like Wasabi and Lemongrass that are derived from ingredients used in other Asian cuisines. While all ice creams have something interesting to offer, the one that really worked for me is the lemongrass.
Pabrai’s also has several fruit flavours including Jamun, Sitaphal, Lychee, Jackfruit, Anjeer, and Alphonso Mango. The Mango was a tad disappointing, but the Jamun and Jackfruit impressed. Another favourite of mine is the Vanilla ice cream, which is flavoured using a combination of vanilla pods from Madagascar and Kerala.
All the ice creams are manufactured in Kolkata and shipped across the country. While this ensures consistency in quality, it does introduce additional challenges. On a couple of occasions, I found that some of the flavours were showing signs of ice crystallisation. This is a pretty rare occurrence, but I’d encourage you to request tasting spoons for the flavours before placing the order.
In a city crowded with ice cream and gelato parlours, Pabrai’s manages to distinguish itself through its unique range of flavours and carefully selected ingredients. Individual scoops are priced between Rs. 39 and Rs. 129 (plus taxes).