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Ice Gola (Shaved Ice): An Indian Summer Cooler

Rajan loves cooking dishes from his native Indian cuisine. He likes to share his favourite recipes with his online readers.

Ice gola is a favourite Indian treat in the summertime

Ice gola is a favourite Indian treat in the summertime

What Is Ice Gola?

Ice gola is a traditional Indian shaved ice dessert from Mumbai. Also known as an ice lolly, snow cone or Mumbai's Slurpee, to Mumbaikars (those native to Mumbai) it is simply called 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, as soon as it was evening, to taste this sweet delight. This was a daily indulgence for our friends, irrespective of the day, and we eagerly awaited the arrival of this vendor.

About the Golawala

The golawala (gola vendor) ran his business from a wooden mobile cart that stood on four cycle tires that worked as its wheels. The golawala pushed the cart manually and pulled a string to ring a bell when he reached his usual spot. He would even ring the bell while pushing 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 colours and flavours like orange, lemon, khus, etc. A simple raised wooden contraption to which a sharp blade was fixed stood on wooden supports on either side, firmly fixed to the wooden base of the cart. This served as a simple ice shaver.

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 too quickly, there was not much else needed to start this small business.

How Ice Gola Is Made

How the Golawala Made Ice Gola

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 one gola, he would cup both his hands together, punch a split bamboo stick in the centre 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 syrup to coat the entire ice gola in one or more flavours (as shown in the video) or place the ice gola in a glass. Depending on the customer's choice, he 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.

How We Ate Ice Gola

We consumed the ice gola by sucking the syrupy contents off the top. It also had to be sucked from all sides in order to prevent melting and dripping. When the syrup was gone, we would dip the gola into the bottom of the glass where the extra syrup had pooled—and the process carried on.

This was fun, real fun, and being offered a gola was like being given a treat.

Ice Gola Today

Today both the ice gola and this business have attained elite status. There have been some marginal improvements in that the mobile golawalas now use a hand-cranked ice shaving machine to make the job easier, and they have a wider array of coloured and flavoured syrups.

On the other hand, the huge potential in this business has attracted 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, quality and service. In some places, bottled mineral water is now used to make the ice, and real fruit syrups have replaced the flavoured ones.

The ice shaving machine is electric powered and new exotic flavours have also been introduced.

The ice gola that used to cost 10 paise (about 2¢) about 40 to 45 years back now costs about 15-20 rupees (30-40¢) at the mobile vendor and about 30 rupees (about 70¢) 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 it as much as I enjoyed writing about it. Thanks for reading.

Ice Gola at Juhu Beach, Mumbai

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


sunny on June 18, 2014:

Anyone have chuski in ganganagar rajisthan? Used to b a guy there who used a thicker version of the syrup and tasted much more sweeter and richer than the so called Gola.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 06, 2013:

Thanks Devika!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 06, 2013:

Ice Gola Or Shaved Ice - An Indian Summer Coolant interesting and looks so refreshing, a great thought here on ice shavings.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 04, 2013:

Au fait, glad you like the trip back in time and appreciate your sparing time to read and pass it on.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 03, 2013:

I hope the golawala washed his hands often! I had my first snow cone when I was just 9. It was at the zoo in St. Louis, MO. Now they are common everywhere here where I live. I don't know about up North, but here in the South where it's hot, they are popular, but they cost a little more than yours -- about $1.75--2.00 and more for really exotic ones.

Very nice story and I enjoyed reading it and learning about life where you grew up. Voted up, interesting, and will share!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 18, 2013:

Yes, but still one can find them though gola has become a sort of sophisticated now with it being available in shops.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

sweetie1 from India on May 17, 2013:

I used to like these what we call chuski when I was kid but over the years the guy who sell them have become very less so it is mostly seen in marriages now a days in Delhi. Very good hub. Going to share this one and voting up.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 08, 2013:

Thanks, Arun! Food to know you have fond childhood memories associated with gola eating.


Rajan- Your interesting article brings back the sweet memories of our school days when we would crowd around the push carts bringing such mouth watering golas in different flavours.Thanks for sharing.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 07, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by, Alex.

Alex Munkachy from Honolulu, Hawaii on May 05, 2013:

Mmmmmm, refreshing! In Hawaii everyone has their own version of this frosty treat, but they simply refer to it as SHAVE ICE.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 05, 2013:

Hi Cookie,

As children we loved shaved ice/gola and loved licking the streamed down colored water. Thanks for stopping by.

BG from PA on May 05, 2013:

As a child, I always loved the blue ones for their blueberry flavor and the blue tongue afterward. Where I lived, you could only buy them at county fairs, traveling carnivals or the big amusement parks that we had to travel for hours to reach. They were served in white paper cones that always leaked out of the bottoms, streaming the melted ice - and its vivid coloring - down your wrist and arm. The gola/snowcone/shaved ice is one of my favorite summer memories.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 03, 2013:

Thanks Girish. I'm glad to have reminded you of some good times.

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on April 30, 2013:

Ahhh, Rajan, i am just imagining the cola taste of ice gola, your hub is very cool today, thanks.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 30, 2013:

@My Cook Book-thanks and we all love having a gola in the summers. Thanks for sharing.

@IslandBites-I agree it is a very much liked cooling dessert. Thanks for stopping by.

@Suzie-I still love having the gola anytime I'm near one selling the stuff. Thanks for all the votes and sharing.

@Natashalh-I don't know of anyone who does not like having a snow cone. Thanks for visisting.

@Patricia- with modern technology, the old manual ice shavers have been replaced by electrically operated machines and it has had a new avatar as well. Thanks for the visit.

@Nithya-glad you too have fond memories of having this much loved gola.

@agapsikap-thanks for visiting and commenting.

@pooja-I can understand how good it feels to have a gola during a hot day. Thanks for reading.

@vertualit-thank you.

@Mary-we have the electrically operated machines now and it is made into different shapes as well. The gola has come a lone way from those days. Appreciate you sparing time to read and share your thoughts.

Mary Craig from New York on April 30, 2013:

Amazing how some things are the same all over the world! Of course here our "snow cones" are not as elaborately made as your Gola! Machines crush the ice, it goes into a cup and syrup is added...it is then served to us in a cup, the shape of which varies by the vendor.

It was so interesting to see how the Gola is made! Thank you for sharing Rajan.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on April 29, 2013:

very interesting. useful posting....

Pooja S from Toronto on April 29, 2013:

It made me remember my college days.....we used to eat gola in summer days!!!

agapsikap from Philippines on April 29, 2013:

Refreshing! My kids love shaved ice, too. We have our own version of slurpee at home. As long as my kids would appreciate, we would try to use variety of fruit flavor. Thanks for sharing.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 29, 2013:

I have had ice golas and they are amazing.Your hub brought back sweet memories!! Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 29, 2013:

This was so interesting. It sounds like making these back in the day was not so easy.

I have never had one of these like you describe but have had snow cones we call them here. Summer is just not summer without a snow cone. Yum

Thanks for sharing

Sending Angels your way this morning:) ps

Natasha from Hawaii on April 29, 2013:

I love snow cones, shave ice, and whatever other names people use for treats that have a lot of ice! They are my absolute favorite type of beverage at any time of the year!

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on April 29, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

What a lovely story and trip down memory lane for you. Beautifully written, it was so interesting learning about these "snow cones" (what I know them as) in your neck of the woods and the early days. i can just imaging how you and other children would delight at the sound of the bell on the street vendors cart. Thanks for a lovely insight to this refreshing product now known throughout the world. Voted up, interesting, shared!

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on April 28, 2013:

Really interesting. We call them piraguas here in Puerto Rico. A very popular treat, yum.

Dil Vil from India on April 28, 2013:

Very well written hub, I've tasted them long back. Simply cool and awesome. I like this hub on Ice Gola. Thanks for the share Rajan! Voted UP and shared.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 28, 2013:

Those were simple days, Brett. And so were these manual ice shaving machines. Still, I agree it must have been quite a job holding the ice with bare hands.

Thanks for reading and viewing the video. Appreciate the votes and sharing.

Brett C from Asia on April 28, 2013:

An interesting variant of a very popular treat worldwide. I liked the video that showed off the traditional style of making them too, although I certainly wouldn't envy that job ... packing ice all day with your bare hands can't be fun.

Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and interesting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 28, 2013:

I agree Vicki! It is so refreshing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Vickiw on April 28, 2013:

Hi Rajan, nothing like a wonderful, cooling gola in the heat! Very interesting Hub.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 28, 2013:

@shining-glad to have brought back some good childhood memories for you and thanks for reading.

@moonlake-thank you for reading ,voting and appreciating.

@gags-absolutely and appreciate the read and sharing as well.

GAGANPREET SINGH BHATIA from Kanpur, India on April 28, 2013:

Ice Gola is one of the most common & famous street food. Specially, children love it a lot. Nice hub. Voted up & shared.

moonlake from America on April 28, 2013:

I love them. Ours are called snow cones and we can buy machines for our homes now. Voted up and rated five stars. Enjoyed your hub.

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on April 28, 2013:

Oh - what a great memory of my childhood! Mom used to make it from scratch and our gang of kids would chase down the ice man for a cooling treat on a hot day!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 28, 2013:

@Carol-thanks for reading and sharing and glad you like it.

@Marcy-we are always learning, aren't we? Glad you appreciate the info. Thanks.

@mr.veg-you are so right! It was fun having our tongue and lips and the fingers covered in different colors. Appreciate the visit.

@Bill-you are right; we all eat almost the same things, albeit made differently and called by a different name. Just like, we all feel the same emotions though we look and act differently.

Thanks for the comments and have a good day, my friend.

@kashmir-thanks and I really appreciate your stopping by.

@Kathryn-yes we too have these shaved ice drinks made from the same syrups and it is so refreshing to have them on a hot day!

@YourCousins-thanks for reading and commenting.

@Rumana-yes those were carefree and fun days. Thanks for the visit and comments.

@Joe-Wow, that's quite a dream story about Aaron! I'm glad you could dip into the sweet pool of your fond memories yet again and enjoy!

Aloha and have a great day ahead!

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on April 27, 2013:

Hi, Rajan!

All I can say is that Walla Walla needs a golawala! Ha-ha!

I grew up immensely enjoying the shaved ice on Kaua'i (not the same as the mainland's snow cones, which tend to have coarser and larger ice particles). One particular golawala, Aaron Furugen (went to school with his sister), became a millionaire simply by concocting and selling his specialized flavors all over the island. If I ever get to interview him, that'd make a very special hub, and I might even get a free shaved ice. : )

Thank you so much for sharing this lovely hub and, better yet, for triggering some fond memories...something I've been doing a lot of lately. Aloha, and continue to have a blessed weekend!


Rumana from Sharjah, UAE on April 27, 2013:

I just love to have Ice Gola in summer. Rabadi is my favorite flavor. Your hub reminded me of those summer days, when I used to enjoy Golas with my cousins. It was a great fun.

Voted up Interesting!

Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on April 27, 2013:

I had not heard of an ice gola or a golawala. And it is interesting to read how inflation has caused the price to jump from 2 cents to $4! I'd love to taste it. Voted up and interesting.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on April 27, 2013:

Oh, this sounds delicious! I like shaved ice drinks, they are fantastic! Ours may not be quite the same, but I have memories of buying some at fairs or amusement parks in the Summertime, and it was such a treat.

Thanks for sharing your memories of the Gola, and for writing about what it is, and how it is made. Great story.

I'm sharing this.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on April 27, 2013:

Hi rajan jolly a very interesting article on the ice gola and how they are made and sold. Well done !

Vote up and more !!!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 27, 2013:

We call them snow cones here and I've been eating them since I was a little kid. Very refreshing in hot weather. :) Interesting to hear that they are also eaten in your part of the world.

Have a great weekend my friend.

mr-veg from Colorado United States on April 27, 2013:

Wow, you took me back down the memory lane, Rajan ! I loved the golas back in my childhood. There were those golden days when I used to get a gola for a Rupee, just one Rupee, I don't think today I can even get to smell it for a Rupee :) Thanks for sharing this colorful and cherised gola hub..

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on April 27, 2013:

Oh, I truly LOVE shaved ice! It's perfect for our weather here, and so refreshing. I did not know the term 'gola,' though - so I learned from this hub!

carol stanley from Arizona on April 27, 2013:

Quite a jump in price...That seems like a lot of money for shaved ice. Thanks for sharing and I am glad you enjoyed your trip down memory lane. For 4 cents we can all afford this treat. Voted up and share.

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