ISLAMABAD: Summer may have given way to autumn, but an ice cream craving knows no climatic bounds. Even as chilly winds blow across the Margallas, residents of the capital can be found enjoying icy treats at outdoor cafes and roadside stalls.

But over the years, there has been a marked shift in preferences and more and more people seem to prefer homemade ice cream to the mass-produced ‘frozen desserts’ available at most corner stores.

This tag is found on most commercially available ice creams, because they are not made from strictly dairy products. This realisation has put many people off mass produced desserts and has allowed enterprising individuals to cater to a rising demand for a bespoke dessert experience.

But the homemade ice cream market in the capital has always been ruled by The Hot Spot Café. With outlets all over the capital, Hot Spot is a favourite haunt for anyone, young or old, with a sweet tooth.

Hot Spot’s unique selling point has always been the vast and eclectic variety of flavours on offer. There’s no simple chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream here, but one can have a scoop of Columbian Mocha, cookie dough brownie batter or strawberry cheesecake.


Ice cream spots in the capital offer a bespoke dessert experience


Journalist Maha Mussadaq, who has been going to Hot Spot since she was a child, said that the dessert experience there is about more than just the ice cream. “You can get any of their desserts ala mode (with ice cream on the side) whether its the Nutella fudge brownie or a yummy Apple Crumble.

There’s a definite added value of going to Hot Spot for ice cream or dessert,” she said.

According to Mohammad Babar, who works at F-7 outlet, the café’s bestsellers are their brownie with ice cream. The novel chocolate cheesecake and strawberry cheesecake ice cream flavours are also popular.

The strawberry cheesecake ice cream is especially good. Creamy and rich, but still light enough to keep you wanting more, the ice cream is not very sweet. The strawberry bits add tartness and cheesecake bits add texture.

People seem to prefer homemade ice cream to the ‘frozen desserts’ available at most corner stores. — Photos by Khurram Amin
People seem to prefer homemade ice cream to the ‘frozen desserts’ available at most corner stores. — Photos by Khurram Amin

Another well-known homemade ice cream brand is Mama’s Ice Cream, which operates out of a freezer outside several superstores or pharmacies in the city. According to Mohammad Nawab, the owner of the ice cream chain, there are ten to fifteen outlets in the city.

Mama’s also boasts a variety of flavours, albeit not as exotic as Hot Spot’s variety. Here, the most popular flavours are Vanilla Kit Kat and French Vanilla. Perhaps due to a difference in ingredients, Mama’s ice cream tends to be more icy and less creamy in its texture.

But Mama’s has an ace up their sleeve: they offer sugar-free ice cream aimed at diabetics and the more health conscious.

“Big ice cream companies don’t cater to people with diabetes. I love Mama’s because they have almost just as many sugar-free flavours as regular ones,” Fauzia Zeb, a diabetic who refuses to give up her sweet tooth, told Dawn.

But for those who prefer their ice cream with more bells and whistles, there is the Sooper Scooperz outlet. Tucked away in a corner of Jinnah Super Market near the Safa Mall, Sooper Scooperz sells a variety of flavours, as well as ice cream sundaes and milkshakes.

Atif Butt, who works at Sooper Scooperz, said that dairy ice cream is richer and has “more weight” than other ice cream. While the servings are smaller, the ice cream is certainly richer than anywhere else in the city. Sooper Scooperz also has a wide variety of sundaes that marry different flavours and textures to great effect. Using brownies, nuts, candies and different flavoured syrups, an ordinary cup of vanilla ice cream is transformed into a satisfyingly sweet food coma.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2015

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