Sunday, April 17, 2016

Time for Summer Coolants. Time to chill :)

Summer is here, and most of the tropical zone in the North ( between 0 degrees and 23and a half degrees North), is reeling with temperatures rising. Its best to stay indoors if possible, to stay hydrated, and never to step out empty stomach, especially where the hot winds called the Loo ( )blow. Nature has provided with natural coolants, and we must make use of these to keep our body and soul cool. 
There are some concentrates which we get in the market. They seem good, but are loaded with sugar, and preservatives, so maybe if possible, we can make them at home. 
1. COCONUT WATER : One of my favorites. Natures bounty! The coconut tree is known as the kalpavriksh, which means the tree of life. Every part of this tree is used by man, for his benefit, including this delicious drink. Packed with electrolytes, sodium and potassium, calcium, and more, it works well when we are sweating up a storm. It maintains the electrolyte balance in our bodies and quenches our thirst, keeping our tummies full for some time. It has several health benefits. Enjoy the drink, right from the fruit and help the coconut seller standing in the heat to earn a living. Its the ultimate health drink.
2. LEMON DRINKS :Another versatile drink during summers is made from this amazing yellow fruit. Most of this fruit too has many uses. The rind, juice and pulp all of it is used. Its juice is used in making lemonades, which provides with vitamin C. Surprisingly, this citric acid, has an alkaline affect on our system, and maintains the pH balance in the body. Instead of sugar, we can add honey, we can freeze honey cubes in the freezer and plonk them in the lemonade. It is a very refreshing drink, and keeps one calm and cool. Lemon can be added in other drinks too to bring in a tangy taste. A few chopped mint leaves in the juice will give the drink a boost. Alternatively make this thirst quencher in water flavored with mint and cucumber.
My mom makes a concentrate of this juice and stores it. It gets polished off real soon, as everyone who walks in the house from the sweltering heat is first offered this refreshing drink. She buys many lemons from the market. Earlier, we had a lemon tree in our garden, and it was so convenient. So you gotta squeeze them in a clean, dry container. In a one liter bottle, she pours one glass (300ml) of the juice, and fills the bottle with sugar. Brown sugar or demarara can be used in place of the refined white sugar. These bottles are then sunned till all the sugar is dissolved. It feels healthier as the sugar has dissolved in the lemon juice over days, with the help of the rays of the sun falling on it. It becomes a thick concentrate. All we need to do is take two teaspoons in a 150 ml glass, add flavored water (with natural mint, lime, and cucumber), or regular plain water and serve.
3. THANDAI (SARDAI) An energy drink, is widely used in many parts of India, as a special drink, which almost suffices for a meal, and is a quencher. It is made from almonds( soaked and peeled), pistachios, rose petals (or rose essence, Khus (vetiver) esssence, watermelon seeds, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, khus-khus(poppy seeds), saffron, milk and sugar. Grind together all of these, except the sugar, with a little milk. Boil the rest of the milk, and add the paste and sugar, mix it well. Cool the drink, and serve it chilled. The quantity of sugar and milk has to be the same. You can chuck your dieting out of the window, and indulge in this yum drink once in a way.
4. WATERMELON JUICE  A simple to make drink. Peel off the outer layer of the fruit, de seed most of it. If a few seeds are left, its okay. Add mint leaves, half a cup of pomegranate, for one medium sized watermelon, and a dash of lemon juice. Mix it all in a blender, run it through a sieve. Serve it in tall glasses. Tastes totally yum, and you can literally feel a cool wave running through your body. The best part is that you do not need to add sugar.
5. LASSI  : This drink, I doubt has an English name to it. It is yogurt, mixed with water, sugar/salt, spices/fruits. It is nutritious, nourishing and substantial enough, if it is mixed with fruits. For one serving take about three tablespoons of yogurt set at home, add water, black salt, roasted cumin seed powder and pepper and mix it with a hand blender. Add a couple of ice cubes in it. And enjoy this healthy, gut friendly, probiotic drink.
Now for the sweet lassi, add sugar to taste or caster sugar, and mix it with a hand blender. You can add rose essence, any flavoring, like Khus juice or Roohafza, pieces of any fruit you like, could be strawberry or mango and water, and run it through a blender. Your sweet, yummy flavored fruity lassi is ready to be enjoyed chilled.
These are images of the salted lassi, strawberry and mango lassi.
6. FRUIT JUICES : Try and have all these juices without sugar, and in a few according to taste you can squeeze in half a teaspoon of lemon juice. Some can be enjoyed sweet and some with salt and pepper. For example,mango juice is sweet, grape juice can be savored with salt and little sugar, or as it is. 
Another very interesting juice is Phalsa Juice. These small fleshy purple colored little fruits, are grown in the tropical regions, mainly India, Philippines, Bangladesh and around. It comes in the market only for a few days. It is a natural coolant. It needs to be washed well, and put in the blender with a little bit of water, sugar and salt. Strain, chill and enjoy the drink. The fruit is known for its medicinal properties. It reduces thirst, cures fevers, and inflammation among other uses. 
7. Aam ka Panna.: This amazing green tangy drink, beats the heat like no other. Take 6-7 raw mangoes, boil them, peel, and keep all the pulp in a container. Remove the mint leaves, from a fresh bunch. Wash them well. Now grind  the leaves with  two tablespoons of sugar, few whole black peppercorns, black salt (kala namak) and roasted cumin powder-one tsp. Mix this to the well mashed raw mango pulp. Add water, enough to make it into a juice consistency. Chill the drink and enjoy.

There are many more, and can be added here. I will do so, as time permits. Till then keep well hydrated, and stay cool. Enjoy the summers, and what it has to offer. 

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