Michelle Wu / Daily Nexus

There’s some harbinger of change that catches a lift in the spring breeze every year, jostling the curtains, swirling eddies of dust in the basking glow of the sun, through the rose bushes of my neighborhood and into my room. I get an urge to cut my hair as short as possible, feel the sun on the back of my neck, trade in my sneakers for flip flops and sandals, fervent academia to restless dreaming. But, every year, when this wind of change comes around, there is something I hold onto — a constant in my life, the pinnacle of every summer of my life thus far: chuski (or gola, depending on what part of India you’re from), something akin to shaved ice. Gola reminds me of the summers of my youth, one hand in my nana’s, the other sticky with sweet syrup and sweat.

This is no ordinary shaved ice in my eyes. The flavors we get from common shaved ice vendors such as Kona Ice are dull in flavor, one indistinguishable from the next, often even leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I last went to India six summers ago, but the flavors of the cola and rose syrups on my tongue are just as colorful, comforting and equally invigorating as ever. I wonder, is my chuski is actually better than what I’ve had in America, or is it the feeling, the memories I made while eating it that make it sweeter and more satisfying?

There’s only one way to tell: have someone else try it for me! Here, I have a recipe for how you can make chuski on your own. While you can use any syrup of your choice, I recommend the three included in the recipe below for the most authentic flavor.


Yield: 1 serving
Duration: 10 minutes


Crushed ice (as much as you’d like)
Pinch of black salt
One, or many, of the following syrups: rose, Kala Khatta, Rooh Afza (found in an Indian store or online)
Popsicle stick


Crush as much ice as you desire for your gola (you can do this by wrapping your ice in a rag and beating it with a rolling pin or other hard object).
Take the ice and shape it into a round shape, as spherical as possible.
Stick the popsicle stick in the round shaped ice, molding it closer to the stick so that it is firmly attached.
Take the syrups of your choosing, pour into a bowl and rotate the ice so as to coat it completely (alternatively, you can pour the syrup onto the ice to achieve more discrete flavor portions).
Finish off with a sprinkle of black salt, if desired.
Enjoy your sweet treat!

I know that as I grow older and my childhood begins to fade, I will look to this sweet treat to remind me of my loved ones and just how simple happiness can be. Let this recipe do the same for you, reminding you how easy it can be to create a little colorful, blissful moment in your own day. Get your friends and family together, have fun with the process and it’ll be sure to leave a sweet taste in your mouth.

A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the April 18, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.