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Sunday , February 26 , 2012
 
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Frozen feast

Deconstructed, frozen yogurt the newest dessert doing the rounds is pretty simple fare. It’s low-fat yogurt that’s been quick-frozen and served with sinful toppings (yes, you could mistake it for ice-cream). Churned in a soft-serve machine, this dessert comes with berry-infused flavours that pair oh-so wonderfully with droolworthy garnishes.

And hear this: it’s crammed with healthy ingredients like skimmed or low-fat milk, fruit purees of berries (strawberry and blueberry and more), pro-biotic yogurts usually topped with fresh fruits and nuts. So, a 300g portion might contain 300 calories while an average bowl would have less than one per cent fat.

Says Rahul Kumar, the India CEO of Red Mango, the newest brand to hit Indian shores: “It’s time for some guilt-free desserts.’’ Ice-creams be warned, for frozen yogurt is the new flavour of the season, so to speak.

Frozen yogurts surfaced in India three years ago when Cocoberry, India’s first and only domestic frozen yogurt brand launched in 2009. Today, it’s in good company as some of the best international soft-served yogurt companies are here. Kiosks and parlours of frozen yogurt giants Red Mango, Yogurberry, Kiwi Kiss and Berry Cool are popping up everywhere. The last three months have seen Red Mango and Yogurberry open their doors.

G.S. Bhalla, CEO, Cocoberry, says that the success of frozen yogurt can be attributed to the fact that yogurt is an integral part of the Indian diet.

Agrees Pawan Batavia, director, Yogurberry in India: “Traditionally Indians are yogurt consumers and also one of the largest consumers of ice cream a win-win combination.’’ Yogurberry, which is flooding Delhi and Mumbai, sells an average of 150 cups a day on weekdays and 250 cups a day over weekends.

Red Mango, with its signature red yogurt parlour in Delhi, made an India debut after opening 270 outlets globally. “It’s a food phenomenon that has gone global. In India, our plans are to open 180 outlets over the next two years,’’ says Kumar.

Meanwhile, American brand Kiwi Kiss has opened a couple of stores in Bangalore and two in Chennai whereas BerryCool has gone to Hyderabad. Marina Kotsianas, managing director, BerryCool, says: “People are getting used to the idea that frozen yogurt isn’t yogurt in its familiar form but is sweet and tart too.’’

This influx of frozen yogurts comes nearly after a decade of the desserts’ mega success in the European and American markets. Two companies, Pinkberry and Red Mango launched in the US in the early 2000s.

Frozen yogurt flavours that are hugely popular here include strawberry, blueberry, mango, green apple, pineapple and even chocolate (though the plain and original yogurt too is a brisk seller).

Toppings collectively there are 100 garnishes to choose from go from fresh fruits to the trademark Oreo cookies. Weight-watchers can skip fattening jujubes and chocolate sprinkles and opt for freshly cut fruits, cereals and dried fruits. Ekta Tandon, Delhi-based nutritionist and dietician at dailydiet.in says: “If you’re trying to lose weight, avoid banana yogurts.”

But if you feel like rewarding yourself, then go for the largest cup with three exotic nuts and regular fruit toppings (about Rs 150).

Also try punchy pomegranate at Yogurberry, guava at Kiwi Kiss and tangy raspberry at BerryCool. Come summer and Cocoberry is promising to launch its seasonal hits like Alphonso and nimbu-pani flavours. Prices are at par with premium ice-creams in the country (Rs 60 to Rs 150 a cup).

Of the 200 cups that Red Mango sells a day at their outlet, Kumar says blueberry and original yogurt move very fast. Ditto for Cocoberry that sells at least 2,000 litres a day at 20 of its outlets across India.

Some brands are suggesting that instead of a fatty lunch, you make a meal of this 300-350 calorie dessert. But nutritionists aren’t impressed. Bangalore-based diet, nutrition and wellness consultant, Sheela Krishnaswamy, says firmly: “I wouldn’t agree with a tag-line which nudges people to replace lunch with frozen yogurt. While it’s a healthy option, one still requires a nutritious balanced meal.”

Creamy sweet or tangy tart, you decide which one of the flavours tantalises your palate. And ye shall be served.