Food

Summer coolers: beat the heat the healthy way

Come summer and it is the time of the year when one longs to stay indoors while sipping on some naturally cooling drinks.   The soaring mercury levels make it imperative that we take care of our body and keep it hydrated.  Excessive heat results in increased perspiration and sweating which causes the body to be dehydrated and fatigued.  Hence, it is very important that we take care of our bodies by replenishing it with nourishing liquids.  These drinks are not only a panacea for parched throats but also help keep the body cool.

Summer Drinks - Picture courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe
Summer Drinks – Picture courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe

Indian summers have been synonymous with traditional drinks made from various regional food produces from time immemorial.  Whether it is the all-time favourite “nimboo pani” (lemonade), “aam-panna” (drink made from green mango), “neer moru” (south Indian style seasoned buttermilk) or the eternally popular tender coconut water, the choices when it comes to indigenous summer drinks are indeed aplenty.  Apart from these drinks there are other, more unusual preparations that pack a whole lot of goodness meant for hot summers.  Here’s a look at some of them.

Kokum juice

Also known as Malabar tamarind, Kokum is a commonly found fruit in the Western Ghat region.  Known for being a rich source of vitamins and nutrients, kokum is extremely good for digestive health as also for the hair and skin.  “It is a known summer cooler and digestive and has been used in food and drinks since ancient times in Coastal Maharashtra and Konkan.  It is consumed during summers for its refreshing properties and taste that has the perfect balance of all flavours, sweet, savoury and tangy” says Chef Anindya Chatterjee from The Kettlery, Ahmedabad.

Kokum juice Pic courtesy The Kettlery
Kokum juice Pic courtesy The Kettlery

Ingredients:

  • 90ml water
  • 20ml kokum syrup
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chaat masala
  • Cane sugar or jaggery to taste

Method:

  • Mix all the above ingredients in a vessel
  • Pour it in a long-stemmed glass
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint (optional)

Wood Apple Juice

Popularly called bael, wood apple is rich in vitamin C and is known to be good for respiratory problems and improves kidney health.  “It’s juice is perfect for summers as it serves as an instant energy boosterIt is certainly a preferred drink during this season as it not only tastes like sweet tamarind but is also a panacea to problems like constipation, diarrhoea and dysentery that are a common occurrence during the summers”  says Chef Varun – Executive Chef Novotel Hyderabad Airport. 

Wood apple juice
Wood apple juice

 Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size wood apple
  • Jaggery 200 gm
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Black salt to taste
  • Ice cubes for chilling

Method:

  • Open the wood apple and remove the pulp.
  • Keep the pulp in a bowl along with chilled water in the fridge. This needs to be done for at least 2 hours to infuse the flavours into the water.
  • Crush the jaggery, add it to water and keep aside.
  • Take out the soaked wood apple pulp, squeeze until all the juice comes out from the pulp.
  • Strain the juice and mix this with jaggery water.
  • Now add the black salt and lime juice.
  • Add ice cubes and serve immediately

Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice

The benefits of Amla which is a powerhouse of nutrients can hardly be overemphasised.   “Apart from boosting immunity and metabolism it has several anti-ageing properties and is a blood purifier.  It is a rejuvenating drink for scorching summers and a perfect coolant for the body which is why it is my favourite for the summerNeedless to say, the combination of tangy and sweet flavours makes it very palatable” says Parimala S A, a home maker from Bangalore.

Amla juice_Pic courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe
Amla juice_Pic courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized amla
  • Honey to taste
  • A pinch of Cardamom powder
  • A pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Grind amla with water after grating or chopping it (remove the seed).
  • Filter the liquid.
  • Add honey, salt and cardamom powder and serve chilled.

 Finger millet (Ragi) – Sprouted Ragi milk

Ragi is an excellent coolant and is extremely effective for the hot weather in summer.  “Ragi milk is vegan and one of the best solutions for children and adults who are lactose intolerant. It is rich in calcium and protein and helps in weight control and diabetessays Jyothi Mahipal, owner Vaathsalya Millet Café, Bengaluru.

Ragi Milk_Pic courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe
Ragi Milk_Pic courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sprouted ragi
  • 1 cardamom
  • Jaggery syrup

Method:

  • Grind sprouted ragi and cardamom. Add water appropriately to get a nice juice like texture. Filter the juice.
  • Add jaggery syrup to taste.

Aralu Majjige or Ragi Buttermilk

It is a combination of popped ragi flour and sprouted methi or fenugreek which is made into a powder (Aralu). “This drink is ideal for summers as it keeps you cool and hydrated. It is effective for digestion, arthritis, acidity and diabetesThe subtle flavours lend the drink a really pleasant taste and the best part is that it is light on the stomach and works wonders on the gut” adds Jyothi.

Aralu Buttermilk_Pic courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe
Aralu Buttermilk_Pic courtesy Vaathsalya Millet Cafe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of Aralu powder (readily available in Vaathsalya Millet Café)
  • 200 ml Buttermilk
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Add 2 tbsp of Aralu to buttermilk and stir well. Add salt to taste.

This article was originally published in The Hindu here.

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