Nigella Lawson’s Maragarita Ice-cream

It seems as an architect entirely too much of my time is spent wrestling with printers. And it seems in my young life I’ve had to deal with all kinds, inkjet, laserjet and my perennial favourite, the large-format plotter. Ever tried printing a drawing on a dot-matrix printer? I’ve had the dubious honour of having done that as well. Do you know what happens to your eyes when you try to read a drawing by a dot-matrix printer that has developed shades of Jackson Pollock?? I scrubbed the floor furiously for a while before the truth dawned on me.

Yesterday I dealt with a super-quirky laser printer that was having cold issues. “Printer warming up”, the little 5″ monitor dolefully proclaimed. Sorely berating its need to cool down every five minutes, there I stood, while precious moments leaked away from life while it stubbornly refused to warm up. I rained invective upon it, pushed the power button Monk-like several times to no avail. There was just no sign of life. I complained to the print tech and gave the machine a once-over. He was sanguine at first but when significant time had elapsed, he became concerned too. As we both stood there glaring at the machine, there was a hacking sound, then a sudden whirr and after a profusion of Artoo-Detooesque beeps, the printer spat out a lime green piece of paper that would do saturation conferences proud. But not me. Because it wasn’t what I’d sent to the printer.

The sudden appearance of this virtual remnant of someone else’s prints produced several emotions. The print tech was relieved and happy to see the printer working. I was annoyed in a way only someone dealing with recalcitrant technology can be and stared morosely at that green piece of paper. And just like that, in seconds, I was thinking of ice cream (See, that feeling you had that Cheeky Chilli had surreptitiously become a tech blog was completely unfounded). The mind forms strange connections. But let me tell you, frustrations literally melt way when thoughts turn to ice cream.

I grew up as a child plagued with frequent colds and treacherous tonsils, as a result of which ice cream was forbidden fruit. As much as I wanted it, I couldn’t have it. I pleaded but on this my mother was firm. As a result, I reveled in the opportunities I did have to eat it, all the while with a healthy respect. Though I’m a fan, I’ve never tried making ice-cream before. The oft-needed ice-cream maker just takes up too much room. Then I saw Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Margarita ice-cream on her show on Food Network. It’s a wonderfully simple recipe and best of all, no ice cream maker required! Could it actually be that simple? I was intrigued enough to give it a try.

The recipe essentially calls for alcohol, lime juice, sugar and cream. Unlike Nigella who used store bought juice, I squeezed a whole bunch of limes for lime juice, not because I think I’m better than her but simply for the fun of it. I like squeezing limes and lemons. Mom taught me how to do it her way a long time ago, with no gadgets using just my fingers. There is a certain intense satisfaction that I get when all the juice comes out of the lime and reduces it to a husk. Then I dissolved sugar in a combination of the juice and the requisite tablespoons of alcohol. The resultant syrup is supremely tart and sticky. When it was dissolved, I added the cream and proceeded to whisk the mixture briskly for about twenty minutes or so, pretending using the hand whisk was a good, although lopsided, workout. The cream first foamed and then slowly, gently settled into a smooth, thick emulsion. At this point, I poured it into containers and stuck it in the freezer for the night, hoping for the best. Nigella said that it would freeze to the consistency of a soft-serve. I was a bit skeptical. I know enough science to understand that the alcohol might change how the other elements froze, but a soft serve?? Hmm…But my mind buzzed with the possibilities if this ice cream worked out. Other citrus and alcohol combinations would work too.

Nigella didn’t let us down. We opened the container the next morning and served it for a lunch we shared with our friends, Ajay and Sush. The ice cream barely resisted the spoon and melted in the mouth. We served it in margarita glasses covered with some lime zest. The ice cream bursts with lime flavour, bringing all kinds of sensations to your mouth. This ice cream is also deceptive in its look, it is white in appearance yet indubitably green in soul. You don’t expect that kind of tangy flavour from such a plain white, milky ice-cream. It’s almost sorbet-like. But I’m sure no matter when you serve it, the taste in your mouth will unerring transport you to summer with visions of green, vibrant limes dancing in your mind. Just like that green paper my printer spewed out.