Minus 30

Desserts are the time-tested therapy that have historically served to mark life’s many milestones. Coincidentally, they also happen to be a one-way ticket to the purgatory that is the neighbourhood gym. But with gelato-makers born and bred on the grain bowl side of the century, it’s easy to blurt the words “healthy” and “gelato” in the same sweet sentence. We met up with one such chef: Gayatri Narang, who is dishing out some of the most delicious vegan treats we’ve ever sampled.

Her background doesn’t scream ‘dessert’ but we’re glad that’s where she ended up. She started out with a degree from the London School of Economics back in 2010 that segued into a lucrative three months with L’Oreal in London before she moved back home to Delhi where she spent six years with an NGO working with local artisans. After quitting in March 2016, she took a six-week hiatus which saw her relocating to Italy’s Bologna to train as a professional gelato chef. Four months in Carpigiani University, an intensive degree and a stint at a gelateria later, she was ready to kick it with her outfit in Delhi: Minus 30
Carpigiani Gelato University (a real place!) was where she gleaned the secret to freezing super-soft, super-creamy gelato whose flavours borrow from nostalgia, from the tropics, and from Southern liquor fills. Once churned those swirls of watermelon sorbet or coconut cream need freezing at -30 degrees for that just-right consistency—something she picked up in her first lesson at Carpigiani, and also the inspiration for the eventual christening of her establishment. Minus 30’s Instagram is a wash of therapeutic footage of Narang’s gelato machine turning out cloudy swirls of fresh gelato or the slow simmer of wild berries being reduced for compotes.

She works with small batches from her home kitchen counter. It makes for a neat order-to-delivery ritual. A 6am start sees her laying the groundwork before hitting the gym before the rest of the day passes wrapping up orders, working on new flavours or just laying low with a good book. Her palate follows the seasons, and is inspired by travels; depending on the time of year you’ll find creamy sorbets laced with blood oranges, and dark chocolate with a side of Cointreau “I am fascinated with liqueurs and the impact they have on flavours,” she said. “You’ll find me constantly experimenting with new combinations to keep things interesting.” Bologna, for instance, is home to some of the world’s most delicious tortellini and ragù and is in the inspiration for Narang’s savoury scoops. “India is yet to mature to being able to stomach them, but with the right balance of flavours and paired with the right foods, they are delicious.” She made a batch for us that sampled each of her categories; a lovely matcha green tea gelato, a classic French vanilla and a lovely coffee that was equal parts kick and flavour were favourites—smooth and easy to consume by the tub (we resisted though). Narang’s liqueur-infused scoops are her speciality and for good reason—the dark chocolate Cointreau was lush, decadent, and boozy, while a Bailey’s Irish cream variant managed to be both airy and dense, velvety and the sort of thing you’d want to let thaw and then drink as a milkshake (okay, we did). Our favourite though was the hazelnut gelato made with almond milk; nutty, non-dairy, and one of the most delicious things we’ve eaten this summer. Narang does regular milk and sugar gelato as well though, in case you’re not particularly sold on the benefits of almond milk. “I encourage them (her customers) to try new flavours or flavours they aren’t familiar with, but at the end of the day I like serving happiness and what makes the customer happy is being completely satisfied with their order.”
Minus 30 will make made-to-order scoops; kiwi with goat cheese? Whatever else catches your fancy really. “Customers love knowing they can have something made-to-order that isn’t available anywhere else,” she said. “I chose to include this section, as I believe it’s important to be able to cater to everyone's needs. Luckily, I’ve never had to turn down an order.”

For great gelato head to Minus 30’s website here.