Popsicles or ice lollies as they were known, were a mainstay in the hot, sultry Kerala summer. The shop outside school which sold everything from little packets of mango pickle to headbands to notebooks would sometimes sell ‘sip ups’, those packaged tubes of flavoured ice. Lime, orange, and raspberry were the flavours that were most popular. If those weren’t available, a pineapple flavoured sip up would do, too.
Making these at home it turned out, were a cinch. My sister, Sadia was the popsicle queen for the two years that she lived at home, and took it upon herself to ensure that we were never out of roohafza popsicles. Although roohafza is rather in-your-face, the flavours mellow when frozen, and the alarming red turns a more pleasant shade of pink. Standing by the sink, on a hot day, with the sticky, cold juice running down my hands, trying to get the better of a melting popsicle is one of those childhood memories that I associate with the summer vacations.
When my sister moved away to college, it was our neighbour Deepa Aunty who took over popsicle duty. Every summer, I would spend countless evenings with her, licking popsicles made from homemade juice. My favourite however, were the cherry ones made from the wild cherries growing in her backyard. Bright red, and incredibly tart, they are still the best popsicles I’ve ever eaten. And not just because they turned my lips red, like I was wearing a deep shade of lipstick, a big no-no at the age of 16.
When I started blogging at The Malabar Tea Room, I wanted to make those popsicles that were such a rage in the 2000s — the tricoloured ones. And after a little of trial and error, I came up with one that I really liked that was lychee, grape and orange flavoured. Although it is a bit more tedious, it looks so Instagram-worthy in the end, that it’s worth it. Pick three juices of your choice, keeping in mind that they need to also complement each other in flavour. Bonus points if the colours are complementary as well! Although homemade juice is fresh as it gets, packaged juices taste fine. All you need to do is fill the mould 1/3 of the way up, freeze for two hours, fill the second juice 2/3 of the way up, freeze for another two hours and then repeat with the last. Freeze overnight and you will have the prettiest fruity popsicles you could imagine.
If you use a more substantial juice, like watermelon, or even if you use a smoothie to make your popsicle, it makes for a filling and delicious breakfast on a warm day. A new favourite of mine, however, is tea infused popsicles, that are one step better than iced tea in the warm months.
A limemade, infused with hibiscus tea or a qaawa is unsusual, light and subtle. If you let the mixture freeze for an hour and then stir in the cardamom pods and rose petals from the qaawa, they’ll remain suspended in the popsicle. And then when they’re frozen, you’ll be left with the most beautiful, translucent popsicles that will bring on that age-old dilemma that millions of people the world over struggle with every single day — ‘Are you going to eat it, or Instagram it?’.