City Food – Summertime Roller Ice-Cream, Gurgaon
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A vision in pink, so pale you fear it might vaporise under the moonlight. This mass of pink is currently a blur, moving round and round like a factory turbine. And the mango scent emanating out from it is just too intense.
The roller ice-cream exists in our megapolis but for some inexplicable reason the super-tasty treat is not common. It pops up along a handful of random streets, only in peak summer. One rare roller ice-cream cart is right now parked in Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazar, near Muneem street.
Usually a roller ice-cream stall needs two people for smooth operations, but here young Saddam is manning it alone. The proof of his ice-cream’s fruity freshness is lying in a red plastic basket. It is filled with melons, apples, jackfruit and bananas. While an adjacent bowl is heaped up with chopped chunks of these fruit. On receiving an order, Saddam quietly gets to the job. (He wasn’t idle anyway, rotating the machine’s handle to keep the roller running, “which helps the ice around the roller stay thanda.”)
Saddam explains that the long cylindrical roller is thickly coated with milk-soaked crushed ice. He picks up a tea kettle, and tilts it over the roller… no, it’s not piping hot chai coming out of the spout but a thin sluggish stream of fresh fruit pulp: It instantly freezes on the rotating ice, which turns pinkish white.
With his other hand, Saddam picks up the chopped fruit bowl and hold it under the moving roller. Some of the fruit pieces get stuck to the roller’s pulpy sticky ice. Moments later, Saddam uses a knife to scrape out a layer of ice-cream from the roller. He arranges the pieces on a plate.
The first bite shoots a shiver through the senses, not because the ice-cream is so icy cool, but because it tastes so fresh.
Saddam is from Agra, and have been in Gurgaon for some years, selling homemade cotton candies most of the year. He switches to roller ice-cream during the summer. “The weather is not very hot yet, it even rained, I’m not getting many customers.” He briefly stands motionless as the late evening market crowd passes by the cart. And then he again starts to rotate the roller. See photo.