In the universe of vegan ice-creams, coconut milk is considered king. Creamy and rich, it provides the fat component necessary to bind ingredients.
“I find with vegan ice-cream there’s an annoying aftertaste of coconut in every single flavour,” says Vidya Raman, co-owner of Chacha’s Bondi, who has instead opted to open a nut-based ice-cream shop.
The pop-up on Campbell Parade, Chacha’s, is the sister pop-up to Raman’s main gig, Nalini’s Wholesome Streetfood, a Bondi Junction cafe that Raman owns with her mum Nalini Raman and uncle, Harry Lubipz. The menu at Chacha’s (“uncle” in Hindi) is similar to Nalini’s: it’s gluten free, sugar free and full of probiotics.
“It’s as healthy an ice-cream as you’re going to find, and it’s made fresh every day at the shop,” says Raman.
The ice-cream making process starts with nut butter. Cashews, peanuts or pistachios are soaked in water to reduce phytic acid, a so-called “anti-nutrient” that’s found in plant-based foods. “Phytic acid inhibits easy digestion, and soaking or activating the nuts gets rid of the phytic acid,” she says. The nuts are then processed through a stone grinder until they form a paste that’s used as the base for the ice-creams.
Miso-caramel is Chacha’s (spot-on) interpretation of salted caramel. It’s sweetened with dates and rice malt, and the miso gives the ice-cream a satisfying umami aftertaste.
While turmeric might be an unexpected dessert flavour here it’s mixed with ginger, cardamom and black pepper (pepper is said to help the body absorb the benefits of turmeric). The result is deliciously creamy and has a pleasant but strong bite. Turmeric (which is said to have anti-inflammatory properties) is also in the popcorn ice-cream, but the flavour is gentler, allowing the toasted-popcorn flavour to shine.
Raising awareness of the health benefits of ingredients is an important component of Chacha’s. In the ice-cream display there are notes explain that Chacha’s believes dark chocolate is for lowering blood pressure; salted pistachio is for a healthy heart; cinnamon is for blood-sugar regulation; and our favourite, delicious ice-cream for good mental health.