While ice cream season is still with us, tour the many flavors at Mardi Gras.

Northwest Columbus’ Mardi Gras Homemade Ice Cream sounds like a New Orleans-themed ice creamery. A walk inside reveals a different story. After taking over the shop from its founder in 2000, owners Mita and Dilip Shah kept the name but made Mardi Gras their own, adding a host of ice cream flavors inspired by their Indian roots.

Prior to Covid-19, Mardi Gras housed a few tables for indoor eating, but throughout the years, I’ve made a tradition of snagging one of the three outdoor benches. Now, the dining room is divided with a stanchion to help ensure that guests keep 6 feet apart while ordering. Sampling is currently off-limits because of the pandemic, but with affordable pints ($6.99) and quarts ($12.99) available for takeaway, it’s worth taking a stab at something new. And,
of course, cones ($3.25/scoop) are always an option.

Mardi Gras is quaint and familiar. Its wallpapered interior is covered with a giant collage of photographs of customers enjoying their scoops. While the freezer displays showcase a wide variety of traditional favorites such as chocolate and mint chocolate chip, it’s the international flavors (listed on a whiteboard) that make the Hard Road ice cream parlor a standout.

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Mardi Gras features 15 varieties of desserts that you won’t find at other scoop shops in Central Ohio, including anjeer (fig) and kaju draksh (cashew and raisin) ice creams. The shop also offers multiple flavors of kulfi, traditional Indian ice creams that are unwhipped, dense and made from caramelized milk, sugar and natural flavorings, with no eggs, salt or gelatin added. (None of Mardi Gras’ ice creams include these ingredients either.)

Cardamom lovers should try malai kulfi, which carries a hint of citrus flavor partnered with a little spice. It’s refreshing and sophisticated at the same time.

Another must-try flavor comes with a heat-index warning. Mardi Gras’ Fire and Ice is reminiscent of Jeni’s Queen City Cayenne, but with more heat. The rich milk chocolate lands first, but then the spice hits the back of the throat.

Finally, spicy ginger is a personal favorite, with the cool dairy balancing out the bite of in-your-face ginger root. Don’t expect pieces of candied ginger in this concoction, but there’s pure flavor in every bite.