Of gold bangles, ‘split milk’ and dogs that won’t fit into fridges!

The year is about 1972 or ’73. My mom comes home from work, very excited. She’s just got a bonus (or maybe arrears or some such thing – basically it was a lump sum!) and wants to buy me a pair of gold bangles. Well, at nine or ten, or at any age in my life, gold bangles or any such things have never excited me! So a family conference is called (come to think of it, quite progressive for parents of that generation!) to decide between the aforesaid (I’ve always wanted to use that word!) gold bangles or a refrigerator. The motion is carried heavily in favour of the frig – by four votes to one, the sole dissenting voice being my mother’s, who thinks that maybe girls ought to be interested in gold bangles! 

And so, with great excitement, a frig arrived – a tiny – very tiny Electrolux, which was making a test foray in the Indian markets (they exited hurriedly!!). The frig arrived just in time for the beginning of the summer holidays for us kids so the next two months were spent in getting over the novelty of shoving our faces in to get cooled off every other minute and the “oooh, feel my face, see how cold it is!” kind of excitement. Refrigerators were very much NOT a part of Indian homes back then and a few were just beginning to make their way in.

Being kids very interested in “cooking” back then, we made many and many glorious messes every day! The frig was an added incentive. Both parents being away the whole day meant there was no one to tell us not to use this or that or to leave that thing alone or else... imagination having no limits, we froze everything we could lay our hands on – to see what would happen! We did try to put Tommy, our pet mongrel, inside because he was pushing his nose in and we thought that we’d help him out by “cooling” him off for a few minutes – luckily for Tommy, bits of him kept popping out (like I said, it was a tiny frig!) and he kept wriggling so we had to let him go!

The notion of making ice-cream was of course, acted upon without any delay. The only ‘cream’ we were familiar with was the skin off hot milk (much reviled!) so milk was our substitute. Banana and mango “icecreams” were made by mashing up with the buttermilk churner (no mixers in the market yet!), adding milk and sugar and frozen in the ice tray. No workman is going to revile what he’s made and so we ate all of these with great gusto… till one day…

…our choice fell on “lemon” icecream. Hot milk, sugar and plenty of lime juice (hey, we had a lemon tree!!) were mixed together and poured into the trays. The afternoon heat was welcomed – we’d have “cool” lemon icecream to look forward to. The frig was opened and the trays taken out with great ceremony. We shook out the cubes of… a strange, lime green frozen watery ‘thingy’ with white strands frozen inside it! Where had our lemon ice cream gone? Never having eaten ‘paneer’ earlier, the idea that milk curdles with lemon did NOT occur to us! 

Never fazed by the unexpected ( a quality that the parents passed down to us in full measure!), we ate the ‘lemon icecream’. It was interesting! It was only years later that I figured what had actually happened!

And many more years were to pass before I figured out lemon ice cream!


  • 2 medium lemons, juiced and zested
  • 200g white sugar
  • 250ml milk
  • 250ml double cream, chilled

Combine the lemon zest and sugar in the container of a food processor till the zest is very fine.

In a bowl, stir together the zest mixture and milk until sugar has dissolved, then stir in the lemon juice. 

In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until stiff. Don’t overwork it as it will split. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture until blended.

Pour the mixture into a loaf tin, and cover with cling film. Freeze for 3 hours, or until firm.

 (Pic courtesy: Internet)