City Food - Roller Wali Ice-Cream, Somewhere in Delhi

City Food – Roller Wali Ice-Cream, Somewhere in Delhi

City Food - Roller Wali Ice-Cream, Somewhere in Delhi

A rare summer treat

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Sniff it, this strange vision in pink. The cool intense fragrances rushing out of it hint to apple and mango and possibly kiwi. This is actually fresh ice, infused with milk and with the flavours of many fruits. This mouth-watering treat is wrapped around a long cylindrical roller; much of this ice formed only minutes ago due to the continual rotation of the roller.

Roller wali ice-cream is rare; popping up randomly in the city, and only in the peak summer weeks. It was once sighted in Okhla, once on Mathura Road, and last year, a rare roller wali ice- cream cart was parked in Gurugram’s Sadar Bazar, near the picturesque Muneem Street.

A roller wali ice-cream cart ideally needs two people for smooth operations, and this cart, here in Old Delhi, is being manned by Shahrukh and his younger brother Aamir. The proof of their ice- cream’s fruity freshness is piled up in a plastic tray. A bunch of whole melons, apples, bananas and a few of the season’s first mangoes are mutely waiting for their turn to be peeled, chopped and pulped for the ice-cream. Indeed, the smaller tray is heaped up with the peels of these fruit.

On getting an order, Shahrukh’s nimble hands turn to the machine. Aamir is anyway spinning the machine’s handle non-stop to keep its roller running, so that the milk-soaked ice coated around the roller stays icy.

Unlike the industrial butterscotch crunch, nutty-buddy and chocolate chip of most ice-cream carts. this machine produces its ice-cream right in front of the customer’s ravenous gaze. Shahrukh picks up a small bowl filled with fruit pulp, and tilts it over the rotating roller. A thin stream of the colourful pulp sluggishly falls on the roller, at once freezing on the roller’s milky ice.

As Aamir continues to rotate the handle, Shahrukh next picks up the other bowl filled with chopped fruit. He brings it right under the rotating roller, where he keeps it still. Some of the fruit pieces in the bowl get stuck to the roller’s pulpy sticky ice. Moments later, Shahrukh picks a knife, scraping out a thick layer of ice from the roller. The ice-cream is served. Its biting freshness jolts the senses.

The brothers are from Etawah, living temporally in east Delhi’s Rani Garden. They come to the Capital every summer and hawk the roller wali ice-cream along the city’s lanes. Tonight they are in Jama Masjid’s Motor Market, their back turned towards the illuminated mosque. With the monsoon’s first rain, the brothers will return to their village to take care of their agricultural land, again becoming farmers.

Now two customers arrive on a scooter.

Season’s sighting


City Food - Roller Wali Ice-Cream, Somewhere in Delhi


City Food - Roller Wali Ice-Cream, Somewhere in Delhi