Icy, sweet and astringent, goal is the perfect antidote to a vexing day
Golas have now entered the menus of hip restaurants too
Learn how to make the famous Kala Khatta gola at home with jamun
One of the very first illicit pleasures I enjoyed was way back when I was a young schoolgirl. I remember that it was a Thursday (or maybe it was a Tuesday?). Anyhow, it was the school's weekly PT day, and students had come garbed in their PT uniforms, ready for the drills to be thrust upon them. The girls' uniforms were snowy white, a recipe fordisaster, as I was soon to find out. Equally important to this story is that fact that it was a sultry summer day, one of those just before themonsoons were about to smother Mumbai, and hence my PT session had gone completely awry.
I didn't march in time, I tripped up another classmate (by mistake!), and worst of all, while swinging my arms wildly, I almost took my teacher's eye out. I was cross, and my teacher's subsequent scolding did nothing to temper my rebellious frame of mind. But what was the utmost form of rebellion I could hope to achieve? Naturally, they were the forbidden pleasures of a gola! For the very first time in my life, I marched over to the golawala who had parked his cart outside my school, and demanded a Kala Khatta Gola. Icy, sweet, astringent, with a squeeze of lemon, it is the perfect antidote to a vexing day, and the perfect act of rebellion against my parents who had warned me of the gola's attendant perils of diarrhoea and typhoid.
Setting off for home nonchalantly, I assumed my secret would be safe. Alas! I had failed to notice a huge splotch that had stained my white uniform. I got the dressing down of my life that day. After my school days, my gola game cooled a little. That is, until my cousin persuaded me to try the one at Soam in Mumbai. "It's delicious, and totally safe," she urged, pressing the menu on me (my friend, a Delhi-wali, called it chuski). "They make it with filtered water." I took her at her word, and ordered (what else) a kala khatta gola. And just like that, I fell back in love with it.
My penchant for Kala Khatta Gola probably stems from the fascination I hold for jamun (the flavour is derived from the jamun fruit, then sweetened), but of course, other gola flavours abound and are equally delicious. Lurid orange, tart green mango, rose, the (somewhat off-putting) pineapple, strawberry, guava, watermelon, chocolate, paan, falooda — you name it, they have it. Friends have even told me about intriguing Malai Golas that are served with dry fruits, and sound like a royal treat of sorts. It is said to be a Gujarati innovation.
Mumbai is pockmarked by golawalas, especially Girgaum Chowpatty, Shivaji Park, Juhu and Goraibeaches. There's something primal about a cold, slurpable gola on a sandy beach in summer, and the Chowpatty golawalas have milked this feeling to the hilt. Most famous of all is the Jumbo Gola served by Jai Jawan Stall; five gola spheres come precariously perched one above the other. Jai Jawan also advertises its chocolate ice creamgola on its 'Must Try' section. Unfortunately, I haven't succumbed yet to that. Those who want to partake of the gola in slightly more salubrious locations, may simply cross the road from Chowpatty beach to Gola Mount. This tiny shop, with its rows and rows of jewel-hued syrups, stocks an unbelievable variety offlavours, including sugar-free versions for the health conscious.
Much further north, in Dahisar, there is a dessert-focussed eatery named Gogola, so you know exactly what to expect from them. They serve all sorts of golas, including khus, kokum, Mumbai masala and Blue Lagoon. They also offer dish golas in all manner of flavours — for instance, Divine Rose which is made of rose, mawa, dry fruit and thickened milk; and Malted Butter Scotch (made with butterscotch instead of rose).
Gola goes posh
Contemporary iterations of the gola have now entered the menus of hip restaurants, too. Farzi Cafe serves their chuski margarita in a margarita glass, and it is flavoured with lime juice and kacchi kairi. At the White Owl Brewery and Bistro, craft beer and cookies (Craft Beer Popsicle) come together for a rather adult twist on this childhood classic. Even posh private parties now offer souped-up gola stands for their guests. Vodka gola, anyone?
How to make Golas at Home
Naturally, making a gola at home doesn't require too much effort. All you need is crushed ice and some sort of taste-making syrup, to drench the ice in. The syrup of course, can be whatever flavour you like - this one here is (you guessed it) Kala hatta.
Jamun 150 grams, deseeded
Sugar 50 grams
Kala namak- to taste
Lime juice - to taste
A block of ice
1. Cook the sugar and the jamuns together for about five minutes until the sugar melts and the jamuns become softer and start releasing their juices. This will sweeten the fruit, and remove its astringency. Strain, then add a squeeze of lime and a pinch of kala namak, as per your taste. Cool for a little while, then keep in the fridge.
2. To make the ice, you will need a large block of ice. Now there are two ways to make the crushed ice; but you will have to be quick, because the ice is bound to melt super quickly. One way would be to grate the ice, into a pre-cooled container. The other way would be to put it in a blender, and crush it quickly, making sure it doesn't turn to water. There is a third way- wrap a clean cloth around it, and smash it.
3. The next step is to quickly pack it around your gola stick with your hands. Or you could just pack it all into a glass and pour the syrup on top. Either way, your gola is now ready!
About the Author:
Meher Mirza is an independent writer and editor, with a focus on food and travel. Formerly with BBC Good Food India, she loves anime, animals and artsy things but also comics, technology and death metal.
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