Ice Gola Or Shaved Ice - An Indian Summer Coolant
About Ice Gola Or Shaved Ice
Ice gola is a traditional Indian shaved ice dessert from Mumbai. also called variously as ice lolly, snow cone or Mumbai's slurpee, Mumbaikar's (those native to Mumbai) know it and call it simply as Gola.
Decades ago, as a child, I along with my friends would make a beeline to the golawala's (the person who sells golas) cart everyday, as soon as it was evening, to taste this sweet delight. This was a daily indulgence for us friends, irrespective of the day, and we eagerly awaited the arrival of the golawala.
Ice GolaClick thumbnail to view full-size
About the Golawala
The golawala ran his business on a wooden mobile cart which stood on 4 cycle tires that worked as its wheels. It was pushed manually by him while a bell was attached with a string for him to pull, (to make the bell ring) whenever he reached his usual spot. He would even ring it while he pushed the cart to let people know he was passing by.
The cart was lined with a row of glass bottles filled with syrups of various colors and flavors like orange, lemon, khus, etc. A simple raised wooden contraption to which a sharp blade was fixed stood on wooden supports on either sides, firmly fixed to the wooden base of the cart. This served as a simple ice shaver then.
Other than a dozen or so glasses, a few utensils, etc, and a big block of ice that was stored under the cart in a makeshift compartment covered with a heap of sawdust to prevent the ice from melting soon, there was not much of other stuff needed to start this small business.
How The Ice Gola Was Made?
How The Ice Gola Was Made Then?
To make the ice gola, the golawala chipped off a small block of ice from the ice slab. He then proceeded to work this against the blade forwards and backwards with one hand while the other hand simultaneously was placed below the ice shaver to collect the shaved ice in his palm.
When he had shaved enough ice to make 1 gola, he would cup both his hands together, punch a split bamboo stick in the center of this ice and then cup his palms and fingers together all the while rotating the ice and compressing it so as to give the gola a roundish shape.
Next, he would squeeze some lime juice on this then dip this ice gola in a syrup to coat the entire ice gola in one or more flavors (see this process in the video to the right here) or place this ice gola in a glass and depending on the customer's choice would start pouring various combinations of syrups on the ice gola while holding the gola by the stick just above the glass. The extra syrup would roll away into the glass. To the glass were also added black salt and lemon juice.
The ice gola was now ready to be consumed by sucking the syrupy contents off it and it had to be sucked from all the sides, to prevent the water formed by melting of the ice, from dripping down. When devoid of the syrup, the ice gola was dipped again into the glass of syrup and the process carried on.
This was fun, real fun, and being offered a gola was like being given a treat.
The Ice Gola Today
Today both the ice gola and this business have attained an elite status. There has been a marginal improvement in that, the mobile golawalas now use a hand cranked ice shaving machine making the job easier and having a wider array of colored and flavored syrups.
On the other hand, the huge potential in this business has brought in educated people who treat this as a proper business and work to provide better quality and variety. With the sprouting of many kiosks serving ice gola as well as bigger outlets also coming in there has been a sea change for the better in hygiene and service, the use of bottled mineral water for making ice and using real fruit syrups in place of the flavored ones.
The ice shaving machine is electric powered and new exotic flavors have also been introduced.
The ice gola that used to cost 10 paise (about 2 cents) about 40-45 years back now costs about 15-20 rupees ($0.3-$0.4) at the mobile vendor and about 30 rupees (about $0.7) at the minimum, at these kiosks and outlets
Writing about this topic was a trip down memory lane for me and I hope you enjoyed learning about the Ice gola as much as I enjoyed writing about it.
Thanks for reading.
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Ice Gola At Juhu Beach, Mumbai
Watch a Very Interesting Video Of Gola Making. He makes golas even blindfolded. Makes 15 golas per minute when blindfolded and 22 golas per minute when not!
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly