Every region in India has that one go-to drink it turns to when the sun shines its brightest. We take a minute to appreciate three such local favourites, beyond the mainstream bounty of mango and watermelon
The hottest days of summer are here, and it is time to pay attention to staying hydrated while replenishing nutrients.
There are various healthy summer coolers which help us to stay refreshed and energised as the mercury rises. The traditional choices of the hot season: musk melon, watermelon, lemon and tender coconut water are also pocket friendly. Here are some more juices that have been part of southern India’s cuisine for many generations.
“It was nungu paal (ice apple-based) and nannari sherbat that we had during my childhood in Thanjavur, but now the options are wider and healthier,” says Devi Bala Chandrasekar, whose foodblog, KitchenDB focusses primarily on traditional, healthy family recipes.
“Each region in our country has special cool drinks and I have tried Nellai pazharasam (mixed fruit punch) and the much easier neer moru (spiced buttermilk) during summer,” she adds.
Devi Bala shares recipes of herbal summer drinks like lemongrass lemonade, orange and oregano juice, tulsi sherbet and variyali sherbet (fennel seeds and raisin) on her blog.
Nandita Shah, a homeopath suggests juicing vegetables. “In North India, aam panna (made with raw mango and jaggery), sol kadhi (a coconut milk drink laced with herbs) and jal jeera (herbs and lemon juice) are popular. But we can also try blending nutrient-rich vegetables with a little lemon juice and mint in a sugar-free drink,” she says.
She says sugar can be substituted with dates paste or raisins. She also suggests drinking tender coconut chaas, made by combining half a cup of creamy tender coconut kernel, eight drops of lemon juice, two-and-a–half cups of water and one teaspoon chaas masala.
“When it comes to vegetable juices, everyone prefers carrots and beetroots, which are naturally sweet . But try blending any kind of gourd along with raw mango (the kilimooku variety) and you will enjoy it,” says Sreedevi Lakshmikutty of Coimbatore-based Biobasics.
Electrical mixer/blenders have made fresh juices easy to make at home. “But we must aim at making these without sugar or at least substituting it with palm sugar or jaggery,” she says.
Sreedevi suggests trying blending curry leaves with coconut milk seasoned with some salt and palm sugar and adding little water to make it a nutrient loaded drink for the season. “I wonder why people have stopped drinking the ragi koozh (fermented porridge) or the simple lemon water with a pinch of salt,” she adds.
Pune-based Neha Mathur, who blogs at The Whiskaffairs says “In Pune, chaas, shikanji and Jeera soda are a daily affair during summer months. I make beetroot chaas which looks great, tastes good and kids simply love it. Also cucumber blended with tender coconut flesh can also be added to the regular chaas as it can cool the body,” says Neha.
Down South, it has always been the neeraagaram or pazhaya sadam (cooked rice fermented in water overnight) that has been the saviour for many during the harsh weather, says Seethalalshmi N, of Organic Farmers Market, Chennai.
She adds, “Using heritage rice and making sure to soak few fenugreek seeds along with the rice can promote health and keep the body cool and has numerous health benefits.” She adds that “soaking sabja seeds and almond gum overnight in water, and adding lemon juice and water and a pinch of salt makes a wonderful drink.”
Ice Apple Milk Dessert
5 palm fruit/nungu, skinned/chopped
200 ml milk, boiled/chilled
4 tbsp organic brown sugar
Method : Chop the skinned palm fruits into fine pieces and keep aside, add it to the chilled milk in a bowl. To this add sugar and rosewater and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and while serving, garnish with rose petals and pistachios. @Kitchen_db
Ash gourd and Raw Mango Cooler
300 grams ash gourd, peeled and cubed
1 medium size raw mango (kilimooku) peeled and sliced
3-4 sprigs of curry leaves
Method: Blend all the ingredients by adding a cup of water, and finally add two more cups of water and mix the juice well and serve. @biobasicsin
1/4 cup beetroot peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp green chilli chopped
Method: Add beetroot and half cup of water in a pan, boil for five mintues, and once cooked allow to cool. Then blend it in a mixer with water, ginger and green chilli into a smooth paste, and strain. Whisk the curd in a big vessel, add water, salt and the puréed beetroot, and set aside. Heat a tablespoon of oil, add the mustard and curry leaves and once they splutter, add to the chaas. Serve chilled. Recipe: @whiskaffair