In the year 1887, my great grandfather, Waliji Jalaji, who came from Mandvi in Kutch started the business. In those days, it was a cooler: milk, sugar and fruits, served in cooled clay pots covered in jute bags. Ice was a luxury until the 19oos. Only when it became commercially available, he forayed into making ice-cream. Our First flavour was mixed fruit, with chickoo, pineapple and grapes. (We have stopped using grapes nowadays as the quality is no longer what is used to be.) Soon Taj also started making other flavours like sitaphal and mango. They are still top-selling flavours, though dry fruit flavours are also popular.
Now we are in the sixth generation, and the business has given us our last name: Icecreamwala. We do not believe in non-natural ingredients, so there are no preservatives or artificial flavours. That’s the reason we dont have chocolate-based flavours: we would have to get the chocolate from outside. We take pride that our flavours have been relished by generations of customers. We have a customer in his 70s who still come to us, and he says the flavours are just the same as they were when he was young.
Our ice-cream is completely handmade, with a deep freeze being the only machine we use! No preservatives or additives are used, only fresh fruit, sugar and milk, all mixed afresh and had churned every day. The rich flavour that this produces is preferred by our customer, including Pankaj Udhas and many from the Parsi community, who don’t go in for the more modern, innovative flavours. The recipes have been handed down from father to son for generation, and are top family secret. We are hoping to introduce more fruit-based flavours.
Though my father has served ice-cream to the Shah of Iran and the actress Madhubala, our best customer was the one who gave our parlour its name. Mr. Taj (we forget his first name) was a friend of our great-great grandfather, and would come to Mumbai once a month just to take his ice-cream! In those days, travelling from Gujarat to Mumbai and back was not easy as it is today. My great-great grandfather was so impressed that he named the parlour after him.
Watch the full video of our Taj Ice Cream exploration here: