Ice creams and chilled desserts continued to be something of a luxury and novelty in plantation homes for a long time after refrigeration became easily available elsewhere, mainly due to the erratic power supply in these remote locations.

Before the arrival of refrigerators, using a hand-cranked wooden ice cream churn was the only way to add a touch of luxury to summer parties. One could borrow a churn from the Club, the centre of all social activity, and try to invent something unusual to surprise guests in ‘a small community continually re-meeting’, where anything out of the ordinary, culinary or otherwise, was looked forward to eagerly to relieve the monotony of routine.

I’ve chosen a beautiful native fruit, the glossy purple Jamun, Syzygium cumini, found all over the country: deep, shiny purple skin with hints of red, violet stained flesh and a raspy sweetness that make it an exotic and extremely pretty ice cream with a lingering aftertaste. A pinch of sea salt scattered on top of a rounded scoop can give you the intense flavours of fresh Jamun bought and eaten dipped in salt from a vendor’s cart. It’s a fruit forever associated with late summer, falling heavily from tall trees to burst on the earth, leaving pinkish purple stains everywhere. The heat in the hills can be intense, sending the countryside into a humming, dazed slumber. A summer afternoon on a deep verandah, sunk into a cane chair, a cool, lilac tinged spoonful of ice cream flecked with fragments of deep purple skin, gazing out at smudged blue hills lost in a haze of cloud can create one of those effortless moments of perfect happiness.

Jamun Ice Cream


  • 1 cup ripe, pitted Jamun pulp, with skin
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup double cream, beaten
  • ½ cup full fat milk
  • 3 tbsp cornflour (cornstartch)


  1. Place all the ingredients except the double cream in the blender jar of a mixer, and blend until well mixed.
  2. Fold in the beaten cream, mix well, pour into a container and freeze until set.
  3. This ice cream sets very firm, so remove from the freezer about 15 mins before serving, to be able to scoop out easily.

Cook’s Note : Jamun has a high water content, so consume the ice cream within 2 weeks, before it begins to form ice crystals.

Image Credits: Nithin Sagi

Kaveri Ponnapa

Kaveri Ponnapa is an author and widely published independent writer on heritage, food and wine. She is the author of The Vanishing Kodavas, an acclaimed cultural study of the Kodava people, and a collection of Kodava poems, A Place Apart, Poems from Kodagu. Kaveri is an acknowledged authority on Kodava culture, history and food traditions.

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