Summer Coolant - Desi Cold Drinks are the Best!

Indian cuisine is guided by Ayurved. This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth and action. We have specific coolants for harsh summers and equally specific foods for rainy and winter seasons too. Nowadays we are being roasted in temperatures like 48C-49C, it is time to drink more of our desi coolants than the aerated drinks like Coke or Pepsi. 

I came to Ahmedabad in early 21st century. The city was warm in weather and feelings unlike the capital city of New Delhi and area around the capital, commonly known as NCR - the national capital region. I fell in love with the gujarati cuisine,  people, culture ane everything else. The city felt so safe unlike NCR. There is another kind of night life in the city which is very different from the night life of New Delhi. It is the night life on the city streets and with family. After the main markets are closed in summer nights, there are hundreds of vendors selling sharbat, squashes, ice gola and ice creams. People are sitting on the steps of market complexes drinking the drink of their choice and children are playing all around. It was such a pleasant sight to behold even around midnight. All these desi coolants were very popular and I hope they still are. It has been ages since I went on a late night drive to have my favourite soda drink or ice gola. Now I am worried about the hygiene and adulterations, which was not the case back 2 decades ago. The sherbat wala used to have all the desi cooling flavours. Now we can buy them  from Amazon or other e-markets. 

We all know society is dynamic identity and it changes. Then the change is the only constant. Thus society is changing continuously and constantly. This is the only way to go ahead. Indian society is changing faster than expected and in this , we have forgotten our own roots and are running after the Colas and Pepsi. We as a society always look for authentication from the west. When they accepted yog, thanks to the hard work done by our international Yog gurus like BKS Aiyangar or Bikram Vohra, we see so many of us are into yog these days. Even the most popular gyms have yoga sessions these days instead of having sessions of only aerobics. 

In summers, we perspire a lot and our body needs more water. The cool drinks like Pepsi or Coke may satiate your thirst but in body but they do not replenish the water which body needs to remain hydrated. It is advisable not to go for that bottle of Pepsi or coke or any other aerated drink when you are feeling thirsty. Go for plain water. It will do better job than any of these sugar loaded caffeinated drinks. 

The high temperatures do affect body and heat stock is real in India,

How do you cool yourself? Here are our desi drinks, which will keep you in good spirits without any "spirit". :)

1. Lime water or nimboo paani - A glass of water with fresh lime juice, a pitch of black salt and similar quantity of white salt , bhuna jeera with a dash of ice is the easiest summer drink to make and gallop down that thirsty throat of yours. 

Lime Juice drink from Unsplash

2. Chaas or buttermilk - In north India, the buttermilk or lassi is always mithee or sweet with loads of sugar and ice. You drink it and then go for sound sleep for hours. It is so satisfying. I had my first taste of chaas here in Gujarat, where it is taken with every meal instead of water. No sugar , no salt drink is light and really quenches the thirst in real sense. Since then, it has become my favourite beverage of summers. Amul chaas is the best one can have. Readymade and easy on pocket too. 

3. Aambi Panna - This drink is made from raw mango known as ambi or kairi. It is simple to make.  Peel the raw mango fruit and bol in cooker for two whistles. Open, mash, remove the mangostone or mango seed from the pulp. Add jaggery or sugar as per your taste. Add some water so as to make the desired consistency. Add black salt, roasted jeera powder or dried pudina. Bhuna jeera and dried pudina both add remarkable flavour to ambi panna. You can make it and keep it in fridge for almost a fortnight. A thick version can be eaten with meals and a thin version can be used as a drink. Both ways, it cools the body.

4. Saunf Sharbat - Fennel seeds have cooling effect on body and it is much better choice than those sugar ladden carbonated drinks. It is very easy to make too. Soak fennel seeds in water ( approximately 1.5 tea spoon per glass) for an hour with tulsi/ basil seeds.  Basil seeds are optional. If you do not have , go with fennel seeds only. Now boil it for half an hour. While boiling add misry or sugar or honey, black salt and a dash of lime juice. If you love your tea as much in summers, replace it with fennel tea. I am sure, you will not regret the change. Just boil water and saunf . Seive the fennel flavoured water, add misri or honey and sip slowly. This is a cup full of health! 

Fresh cold chaas from Unsplash

5. Sugarcane Juice - This is full of goodness! Everytime, I locate a sugarcane juice wala,  I have to stop and have my drink.  This light yellow coloured  fresh juice has my heart. With dash of lemon juice, crushed mint/ pudina leaves and the special masala is all that is needed for that divine taste. I do not add ice as there is no check for the quality of ice and it is extremely risky in summers. Another precaution for drinking sugarcane juice from the roadside vendor is that always get the fresh juice. This juice gets spoilt very fast. 

6. Coconut Water - This is nature's bounty! Unadultrated and full of minerals with a sweet taste, it is one of the best summer drinks. few decades ago, it was only available in southern part of India. With the improvement of road network and transportation, now we have raw coconut every where. You may find a coconut water dealer even in the smallest of the towns these days. 

7. Sattu Drink - Sattu is a staple food of Bihar. It is either eaten as a meal and can also be taken as a drink. It is versatile and healthy superfood and is the favourite food of economically weaker sections as this is very affordable. It is made from roasted chanas. You can drink it hot or cold as per your mood. Add the cold or hot water as per your desire in a glass. Now add 2-3 spoonful of sattu powder. It can be sweet or salty. Both ways, it satiates your hunger and thirst both. Stir and adjust salt and sweetness as per your taste. Drink and feel all energetic. 

Natural Summer Coolant from Unsplash

8. Barley Water - Barley is the new superfood. Our ancestors know about it's benefits.  Now, when the western world has focussed it's attention to it, we have also giving it importance which barley deserved since long. Barley water is easy to make. Boil barley in water till it becomes soft. Mash and sieve this concoction. Let it cool. Add honey, lemon juice and ice. Your drink is ready. Enjoy and be hydrated. 

Jaljeera or the fresh fruit juices like water melon or cucumber tomato smoothies etc also fit the bill. 

So, this summer say goodbye to all aerated drinks like Coke, Pepsi, Thumsup, Mirinda etc and let us heal our body by drinking these cold drinks.