The bold colors and brightly lit space inside Sunnyvale ice cream parlor Nirvanaah recall a Baskin Robbins, yet the offerings are quite different—for the most part anyway. They offer Indian ice cream flavors such as kulfi, chickoo and mitha pan, as well as several standard Western flavors such as strawberry, cookies and cream and caramel crunch. Thirty-odd flavors in the glass case are mixed seemingly randomly.

Owner Anu Nambakam opened Nirvanaah on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale in October 2010. Since then she’s opened a location in Fremont and one in Dublin, with plans to open more in the Bay Area. Originally from India, Nambakam started the business because she was thinking about a specific dessert back home, cassata, a three-layer ice cream cake, which was hard to find in Silicon Valley. She chose the name Nirvanaah, because she wanted a feeling of bliss associated with her ice cream.

Though Nirvanaah does serve cassata (and some other Indian desserts), it’s the ice cream that’s the highlight, which they partner with New Jersey ice cream plant Kwality to make. A lot of the flavors are familiar in Indian cuisine, even if not usually found in ice cream form. Sitaphal, for instance is a common tropical fruit that looks like an artichoke, but tastes like a sweet apple. Chickoo is a fruit popular in India that tastes similar to a pear. A scoop of ice cream costs between $2.99 and $3.79.

Kulfi is a good benchmark to start. Nirvanaah’s selections include plain kulfi and a handful of other kulfi combinations. In India, kulfi is a common frozen dairy dessert made out of condensed milk. “Usually people [in India] go out to get dessert and kulfi. There is a kulfi man who goes around ringing the bell and there are the memories that we all grew up with, where there is a guy with a bicycle, going around saying ‘kulfi,’” Nambakan recalls.

At Nambakan’s recommendation, I tried the falooda kulfi, which is made with rose petals, basil seeds and kulfi. The taste is light, sweet and fruity, with just a hint of spice. Another popular flavor, mitha pan, is inspired by the assortment of herbs and spice commonly chewed after meals to freshen breath. As an ice cream, mitha pan is a sweet, complex treat with a lot of subtle interaction of flavors.

“They are all flavors that we all grew up with. There is a rich tradition of using a lot of spices in our cuisine and our food. The same thing is true even for the ice cream. There’s a lot of flavors that are infused into each of these flavors,” Nambakam says.

There is a difference, though, with all the flavors Nirvanaah serves, even the more traditional flavors like mango and vanilla. The butterfat content is high, while the sugar content is low, resulting in a less dense ice cream with a lighter, fluffy texture. The natural flavors of the fruits and spices come out and aren’t overpowered by the taste of sugar, which presumably creates that blissful feeling Nambakam is trying to create.