Gadbad Indian Ice Cream Sundae


Most composed ice cream sundaes are long low horizontal creations, like the banana split. Enter the Gadbad, the very vertical sundae.

Gadbad is a deliciously stacked hodgepodge of 3 different ice-cream flavors, fresh and dry fruits, jelly, and nuts in a family of parlor concoctions known as Triple Sundaes that include combinations with names like Jackpot, Dryfruit Queen, and Triple Sande. It is served in a tall transparent glass or mug (essential to the success of the creation) and served with a long iced tea spoon so that you can really dig into the layers right on down to the bottom. This layered affair is eaten as a mishmash, as you need to push down through all the flavors in a single spoonful. It is considered a whole meal, not simply a dessert! Described as a little bit of heaven, every spoonful tickles your taste-buds and awakens your senses, much less a bit of an afternoon or evening energy boost, and with each swallow, of course you get to experience culinary Nirvana.

This delectable wildly popular sweet was apparently first whipped up either in 1977 in the Hotel Diana restaurant in Udupi or at Ideal Ice Cream of Bangalore, the most famous ice cream parlor in India that specializes in Gadbad. It started with a combination of 14 ice cream flavors and now has 100 to choose from. Of course, once people got a taste of Gadbad, they flocked to the parlor and its fame spread!

Udupi is a town in the South Indian State of Karnataka, northwest of Bangalore. Udupi means the land of the “lord of the stars,” the moon. It is known for its innovative, seasonal vegetarian cuisine that was developed by the Shivalli Brahmins who cooked for Lord Krishna. It is also the center of Daasa Sahitya, a form of scholarly bhakti literature and music by the devotees of Lord Vishnu, that originated in Udupi.

Now, Udupi evokes distinct images – the Sri Krishna Mutt Temple with the 8 Ashta Mathas monasteries that surround it and Gadbad of Diana. Now of course, most of the self-respecting ice-cream parlors and restaurants (at least in Karnataka) serve their own versions of Gadbad ice cream. So along with your pilgrimage to the temple, you can have an authentic Gadbad as well.

With a bit of planning, you can easily make your own Gadbad, a hot weather treat. (In Kannada, ‘gadibidi’ is usually used to refer to a person “in a hurry”.) It is a great dish to serve guests or even have a make-your-own station. The secret is a deep serving glass. Use a glass coffee/cappucino mug or tall water glass with a bit of a base on it so it won’t tip over. Search out exotic ice cream flavors at the ethnic market. This recipe was described to me by Krishna Raghunath, who had Gadbad on one of her trips to India to visit her mother. Fantabulous!


Ice Cream: Three of your favorite different flavors of ice cream – e.g. vanilla, chocolate chip, strawberry, mango, coconut, cherry vanilla, coffee, pumpkin, Kesar-badam (saffron-almond).

Fresh Fruit: Cut selection of one or multiple fresh fruits (cut bite-sized) – (Mango, apple, pineapple, banana, mandarin oranges, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, papaya, grapes, and/or anything else you can lay your hands on. Krishna remembered mango, grapes, and banana.).

Nuts: Raw or toasted nuts – broken cashews, sliced or slivered almonds, pistachios (one nut or a mixture).

Dried Fruit: Raisins, or other dried fruit like dried cherries or cranberries. If they are chewy-dry, plump in some hot water for 20 minutes, drain and dry on a layer of paper towels, or kept in the fridge covered with apple juice. The plumping makes them yummy.

Jelly: Strawberry or other bright fruit jelly like blackberry or currant (you can substitute defrosted sweetened strawberries).


Take a tall transparent sundae or parfait glass, large water glass, or cappuccino coffee mug. The larger and taller, the better (It will hold more ice cream). Place a layer of about half an inch of jelly at the bottom of the glass (a teaspoon). Use an ice cream scoop that is a size that will fit in the glass (they come in sizes from a regular scoop for an ice cream cone gradated down smaller). Place one scoop of one flavor ice cream in the glass, say coconut, on this. Be careful about it, make sure it does not mix with the jelly; it has to fall in layers.

Then on top of the scoop of ice cream, sprinkle a layer of nuts and raisins. Add one more scoop of ice cream, say strawberry or mango, on top of the nuts, then another thin layer of jelly.

Next, put a thick layer of fresh fruits over this. Sprinkle with some more nuts and raisins if your glass is tall enough. Top it off with a huge scoop of your favorite ice cream, say Kesar-badam or vanilla. This scoop should stand over the rim of the glass, like a kind of dome. It should look ready to melt and spill down the sides of the glass.

Now get a long enough spoon, and DIG in.

NOTE: Gadbad is NOT to be eaten carefully layer by layer. You just have to dive into it and make sure that you get all kinds of cold creamy flavors with fruits and nuts in a single spoonful.