Growing up in Brooklyn Heights, in our elementary and impressionable years, shaped an unconventional childhood. The view from our windows at 85 Livingston was that of a neighbouring building and rooftop of a parking garage. The only natural life we could occasionally glimpse from our cozy nest were the pigeons cooing on top of the parking garage. Living in a concrete jungle didn’t give my older sister and I much opportunity to go out and play. The most outdoor activity we participated in was frolicking through the courtyard of office buildings or going for a shopping spree along Fulton Street. On special occasions, we were treated to Thai food on Montague Street, followed by our favourite pastime of waving to cars as they zoomed by under the promenade.
As it was not the norm for children to be residing at 85 Livingston, the entire community unconsciously came together to watch over us as we made the unchaperoned journey from home to school on weekday mornings. Starting with a friendly farewell from the always dependable Mexican doormen, followed by comforting nods from the chain of fruit vendors along the route, and the reassuring smiles from the elderly who would supervise us as we crossed the streets, we were finally greeted by the sing-songy crossing guard who would escort us to our final destination.
After school while we waited for our parents to come home from work, we had to keep ourselves occupied. We played the ultimate forms of make-believe. Not only did we play house, with the perfect mommy, daddy and baby, but we also played bua and kaajer mei (the portly and bossy head servant, and the meek and obedient servant girl). We played elevator man, we played school and took attendance, and best of all we played Bollywood.
Given the lack of leisure opportunities, we spent copious amounts of time watching TV. This led to the utopia of snacking on junk food while our eyes were glued to the idiot box. You knew you were in for a good day, when you happily prepared yourself a bowl of junk food, shimmied your way to the couch with a bowl in one hand, the remote control in the other, slouched back cross-legged, and then spent the next 10 minutes tuning through the endless channels.
My most prominent food memory of our popular TV snacks is a visual one. I recall seeing my older sister take a bowl full of Horlicks powder and a spoon. She would lick the spoon, dip it into the dry powder, watch it caramelize and solidify, and then she would use the tip of her tongue to wrestle the gooeyness off the spoon. This process was repeated until either the powder was finished or until the ending credits started rocking for Saved by the Bell. Meanwhile, I would try to avoid eye contact through my periphery as I grew squeamish at the grossness of her favourite indulgence.
Malt should be considered another type of taste after umami. After my Horlicks drinking years, I was reminded of this taste when having Toscanini’s subtle but satisfying malt-flavoured ice cream at Harvard Square and more recently when savoring Christina Tosi’s sublime and salty cereal milk ice cream at Momofuku Milk Bar. I decided to make my own Horlicks ice cream at home without all the added sugar and sodium.
Heavenly Horlicks Ice Cream
- ¼ cup unpasteurized raw milk (it’s not technically legal in Canada J)
- 10 tbsp of Horlicks powder
- 2 natural grain-fed farm eggs (separate the egg yolk from the egg whites)
- 1 tsp of vanilla essence
- 1 ¼ cup unpasteurized cream
- 3 tbsp of unpasteurized honey
- ½ tsp of sea salt
- ice cream maker
Unperfected but Equally Satisfying Process:
- Heat the milk in a milkpan on the stove, just until warm and mix the Horlicks powder in until blended into a gooey paste.
- Set the paste aside to cool. I put it in the fridge (although I’m not sure you’re supposed to…)
- In the meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl with vanilla essence.
- Briskly whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until it is fluffy white. This might take almost 30 minutes and a sore arm, if you whisk the traditional way, like I did. Otherwise opt to use an electric whisk or Kitchen Aid mixer.
- Fold in the egg yolks into the fluffy egg whites.
- Microwave the honey in a mug for 10 seconds and mix into the cold cream.
- Fold the gooey Horlicks pasted into the cream mixture.
- Fold the egg mixture into the ice cream mixture.
- Drop in the salt.
- Make sure everything is combined well, but don’t beat.
- Taste the mixture and feel free to add more honey or salt according to your taste buds.
- Turn on the ice cream maker and pour the ice cream mixture in.
- Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker. It typically takes about 25 to 30 minutes for the ice cream to form.
- The ice cream should be a nice thick consistency because of the egg and Horlicks powder.
- If you are not having right away, store in a covered glass container in the freezer.
When you’re ready to indulge in some heavenly Horlicks ice cream, make sure you lick the spoon and bowl clean. Enjoy!
-FROM ONE UNRULY KITCHEN TO YOURS