Since 2015, Pooja Bavishi has been churning up unique and fabulous ice creams that she sells from her Malai stand at Smorgasburg's two Brooklyn encampments. She's drawn a devoted following for her flavors like star anise, masala chai and ginger root, but you could only score scoops of her 'screams on weekends—until this week. On Monday, Bavishi debuted her first storefront inside Gotham Market at The Ashland on the Fort Greene/Downtown Brooklyn border.
Malai is the second tenant of the food hall's incubation program, which first hosted Crown Heights' Crabby Shack when the market first opened in February. Now it's Bavishi's turn to take over the stand, which affords her the opportunity to produce more involved ice cream creations like slices of ice cream cake, warm sauces, and chai floats without the elements of the outdoor markets.
"Food, in general, is really social and familial and nostalgic, and I love that it has that distinct perspective for many. I try to think of dishes that I grew up with, or even just a memory of a flavor or smell, and I think about how I can make that into an ice cream flavor," Bavishi says of her inspirations. "The most fun thing about this business is for me to see others have a reference point through their own memories, even though I created the flavor through mine."
In the two years since she created Malai, Bavishi has developed over 15 flavors, which she still makes by hand at Brooklyn FoodWorks, a rental commercial kitchen space where other local food makers house their commissary kitchens.
"They feature not only bold, clean flavors, but a deeply satisfying, ultra-rich texture," ice cream enthusiast Scott Lynch says of Bavishi's creations. "This is full-on creamy perfection, made with a whole lot of love."
To celebrate the new shop, a new flavor: Fig on Fig, a fig leaf ice cream with a fig jam swirl. In addition, Malai will be giving out free samples of ice cream for the official opening on Monday, July 10th. Swing by between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to get a sweet taste on the house.
Gotham Market at The Ashland is located at 590 Fulton Street; malai.co