What you need to know:
- Gulf News is going on an ice cream trail this Ramadan.
- Our eighteenth pick of the month is the baraf ka gola cream.
- Be prepared for our list of 29 ice creams for 29 days.
- End your fast and enjoy the Summer months with these sweet and cold treats.
When I close my eyes and think of the blistering New Delhi summer, I remember going to the market ice cream vendor to get a large portion of shave ice, dripping in syrup, popularly known as chuski or baraf ka gola (Shaved ice) in India.
We present our Indian election special and the 18th treat for the month …
#18 Barf ka gola (shaved ice)
What is it?
The cold treat is made from crushed ice and clumped together on a stick to form an ice-lolly. It is then drizzled with colourful, sweet and tangy flavoured syrups. If you bite the lolly or take in too much at once, you are bound to experience brain freeze. The ideal way to eat is it is to suck and slurp it, which is why it is also called a chuski. The term is derived from the Hindi word chusna, meaning 'to slurp’. It is a street food item and is most popular in summer.
Shaved ice is popular all round the world and is served differently everywhere.
According to reports, Japanese immigrants, who brought it with them to Hawaii, imported it to America.
In Hawaii, shave ice is made from shaving a block of ice. It is usually served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a type of bean paste.
In 1989, Susan Mernit wrote an article for The New York Times and discussed the popularity of Asian desserts and cold treats in the US.
She said: “Bao bing, which means ‘shaved ice’, was eaten in China as early as the seventh century A.D. In 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon made his first visit to Beijing, bao bing was served during state dinners with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.”
In India, it is traditionally served as a flavoured ice-lolly. The most popular flavour of the gola is the kala khatta, a dark, purple sweet and tangy syrup made from black berries. Serving the ice gola with rainbow-coloured syrup is the traditional way to eat the dish, however, some places do serve it with a scoop of ice cream and crushed dry fruits.
Residents share their memories:
Dubai resident Shrutika Mathur had her first ice gola when she was six years old.
She said: “I had it for the first time in a village fair. When the fair was about to get over, the vendor started giving me the icy Popsicle for free. I made the best out of that.”
She added that her favourite flavours are kala khatta (black berries), rose syrup, orange syrup and green khas (herbal extract made from vetiver grass), each of which has a different taste and flavour.
“I haven’t had a gola in many years but when I think about it I remember the fair and the excitement. At that time no one cared about the hygiene and whether the water was mineral or not!”
For 34-year-old Madhav Goel, the gola reminds him of his father.
He said: “My favourite was always the kala khatta. My father would take me to the same street vendor who would know exactly how much khatta I wanted in my gola.
“I would then break the gola and drink the glass full of iced kala khatta. Those were the days when we were not bothered where the ice came from and where was the slush was made.”
Echoing the same, Vijay B. had the summer special when he was a small boy. The 37-year-old said: “My fondest memory of gola is throwing the ice on my friends. We used to have a competition where, whoever finished their gola the fastest, had to pay for everyone else’s.”
The Dubai resident added: “The icy treat reminds me of my vacations, friends, freedom, fun and mischief. Years go by, the vendors who sell this have probably changed and so have those friends, but what remains is the want to go back to one’s childhood.”
Where to find it?
Despite being an extremely popular sweet in India, baraf ka gola is available only in a few restaurants in Dubai. At Flavours Ice Cream shop, residents can get the gola.
Owners of the restaurant, the Parekh’s, told Gulf News: “Gola is the favourite thing to eat during summer time and it was a delight when our parents would take us to have it. When we came to Dubai we used to crave it, which is why we decided to start this shop.”
The 15-year-old shop serves ice cream as well, and all the ingredients used are natural. The owners added: “The green syrup is raw mango and the orange syrup is orange flavour. It is sugar syrup which is boiled over a period of time, after which you add natural flavouring and colour.”
The shop also serves the ice gola with ice cream and dried fruits, which is supposed to be a popular dish in many places in Gujarat, India.
“It is called the mava (khoa, a dairy product) plate. The base is of the normal ice gola. Once you add the syrup, kulfi or mava is added over the ice. Here we use kulfi ice cream and garnish it with pistachios.”
Another place you can get ice gola is Kulficilicious. They serve it on a stick and in a glass. A portion of syrup is added to the glass and the ice-lolly is dipped into it. They have more than 25 flavours to choose from, some of which are kala khatta, chocolate, cranberry, strawberry, chai tea, blueberry and more.
Price: Dh6 (Flavours Ice Cream, Karama, Dubai) and Dh8.5 (Kulfilicious, Karama, Dubai)
Availability: The ice gola is also available at AB’s Absolute Barbecues, but it is not always on the buffet menu.