Today, June 2nd 2022, marks the start of the celebrations in the ol’ home country for the platinum jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen.
Sitting far away in India, I nevertheless thought I should write my own little tribute today to a lady whom I admire and respect hugely.
And so “Hello to the Queen” it is 🙂
I’m not being informal, I assure you – “Hello to the Queen” is the wonderful name of an Indian pudding, believe it or not.
Sadly, I haven’t eaten one, so I can’t tell you how it tastes, but here it is on a menu from a little café high in the Himalayas:
I first spotted this quaintly named dish on menus in Leh, in Ladakh, and I’m told that “Hello to the Queen” is found typically in hill stations and especially those frequented by foreigners.
There is some speculation as to the origins of this dish, and I give you the following fascinating back story from the brilliant writer Mayank Austen Soofi. Mr. Soofi starts with a description of the dish:
“Served in a glass bowl, the dish consists of scoops of banana-studded vanilla ice-cream lounging on a mound of cookies, and the whole thing is generously smeared with hot chocolate sauce. It demands such a simple preparation that you can easily rustle it at home. But the Queen is truly enjoyed only in a room filled with sugar-starved tourists, preferably from Israel.
Apparently, Hello to the Queen is a kind of made-in-India dish that appears only on the menus designed for foreign tourists who hang out in hotspots like Pushkar, Manali and Goa. Its origins are mysterious. Even the all-knowing Wikipedia is silent on the Queen.
The origins of Hello to the Queen are the topic of much debate, some say it heralds from Israel. The Israelis say it doesn’t. The truth is insignificant. The fact is it is the most incredible and indulgent of all desserts I have had the pleasure to feast upon. Imagine if you have a layer of biscuit, topped with hot fudge sauce, raisins and cashews, with a fat dollop of vanilla ice cream https://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2015/09/18/city-food-hello-to-the-queen-ajay-guest-house-paharganj/perched on top and lashings of cream.
One of the things that we’ve been noticing on the dessert menu of most restaurants around India is the very intriguing Hello to the Queen. A group of Israeli girls explained that the dessert was a travellers’ favourite around India and was particularly popular with the Israelis (“Shalom la Malkah”). As the story goes, it all started with an Israeli man in a Pushkar café who, after a long day of enjoying the local charas, began to get the munchies. He asked the waiter to bring him ice cream… with chocolate, and whipped cream, and bananas, coconut, marshmallow and cookies.”
A sweet tribute, right? (Pun absolutely intended 🙂 )
Congratulations to a wonderful lady on a wonderful anniversary.