“Malai, Known for South Asian-Inspired Ice Cream, Makes Debut Off 14th Street”

by Alice

New York’s renowned ice cream destination, Malai, famed for its aromatic, South Asian-inspired flavors like ginger root and masala chai, is making its debut in Washington, D.C. After almost a decade of serving up unique scoops in the Big Apple, founder Pooja Bavishi is bringing her innovative creations to the nation’s capital. The inaugural store, located at 1407 T St., NW, is set to open its doors this Saturday, May 18, just in time for the summer season.


Bavishi, drawing from her experience as a first-generation Indian-American, began crafting her distinctive ice cream flavors in 2015, inspired by her upbringing and cultural heritage. Her flagship store in Brooklyn opened in 2019, garnering a loyal following, and now she’s expanding her reach to include D.C., a city renowned for its diverse culinary landscape.

The decision to open in D.C. was a blend of personal nostalgia and strategic expansion. Bavishi, having lived in the city for a few years post-college, felt a connection to the vibrant food scene and believed it was the perfect environment for her unique flavors to thrive.

The D.C. location, taking over the spot previously occupied by Ice Cream Jubilee off the 14th Street Corridor, promises a sensory journey with its dozen dairy and non-dairy ice cream offerings. From red chili chocolate to passionfruit cilantro, each flavor is a celebration of South Asian ingredients and American tradition. A standout favorite, rose with cinnamon-roasted almonds, will remain a staple alongside rotating bi-monthly specials.

Prices at Malai are set at $6 for a single scoop or $9 for a trio of flavors, with an option to add toppings such as cacao-nib-cardamom shortbread or crunchy peanut chikki for an extra dollar. For those seeking a different ice cream experience, Malai also offers ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches, creamy kulfi popsicles, and soft-serve swirls featuring flavors like pistachio and saffron.

To mark its arrival in D.C., Malai is introducing a special cherry black cardamom flavor, exclusively available in the capital. The blend of sweetness and smokiness pays homage to D.C.’s official fruit while showcasing Malai’s innovative approach to flavor creation.

Additionally, Malai is renowned for its homage to Vice President Kamala Harris through its “Madam Vice President” flavor, a fusion of mango and coconut with candied-lotus seed mix-ins, reflecting Harris’ Indian heritage. Although not currently available for scooping, the flavor is available in to-go pints, housed in the store’s freezers.

Bavishi’s mission extends beyond simply offering delicious ice cream; she aims to challenge conventional perceptions of the frozen treat in America. Through Malai, she hopes to introduce customers to new and exciting flavor profiles, showcasing the rich tapestry of South Asian ingredients.

To celebrate its grand opening on May 18, Malai will be offering $3 single scoops all day, with the first 50 customers receiving a complimentary Malai tote bag. Operating hours will be from noon to 10 PM on Sundays through Thursdays, and noon to 11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, ensuring ample opportunities for ice cream enthusiasts to indulge in Malai’s unique offerings.


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