While you might feel like disappearing in a pond of cold water and not re-appearing till the summers are over – that is unfortunately not an option. With even the ‘hill stations’ no longer cool and temperatures rising way above bearable point, there’s just no respite for us Indians. However, we too have devised our own ways to stay cool and keep the heat away. One of the best ways to keep those summer blues away is drinking a lot of fluids that naturally cool the body and help replenish the nutrients lost through sweat. In summer, we tend to sweat a lot and one of the worst fears is that of dehydration. But drinking enough fluids helps restore the body salts and essential nutrients we lose through sweat. While drinking water does help, adding some flavour to it makes it more interesting and helps you enjoy the drink too! So then, go grab these delicious desi drinks and enjoy!
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1. Nimbu Paani
This should be the official drink of India! Wherever you go, whichever part of the country, you’re sure to find nimbu paani in some form or the other. Nimbu Paani or Lemon Water is not just plain lemon juice and water but has sugar and salt (at times a couple of other mixed Indian spices along with crushed mint leaves) to add an interesting flavour. Indian summers are absolutely incomplete without Nimbu Paani! The best part? Making Nimbu Paani is child’s play! Cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juice into a glass. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of powdered sugar (you can add more if you like it sweeter). Crush some mint leaves with your hand and add to the juice. Add ice cubes, top it up with chilled water, mix well till the sugar and salt dissolve and serve!
If there’s anything that can rival the Nimbu Paani, it is Chaas. Once again found all over India, it is a necessary part of the Indian diet. Enjoyed either with/after a meal or sipped on through the afternoon on a hot summer day, Chaas or Buttermilk is as healthy and nutritious as tasty. There are many variations found in India from thick chaas to thin, watery chaas, spiced chaas to plain chaas, sour chaas to fresh chaas. Taste the variety, take your pick and slurp away! To make chaas, take some fresh curd and churn it till it is smooth. Add some salt, jeera powder, crushed green chillies-ginger paste, finely chopped coriander and mix well. Add chilled water and make it as thin as you like. Serve immediately!
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3. Nariyal Paani
There’s just not enough you can say in praise of Nariyal Paani or fresh coconut water. Found in abundance in India, this drink is as cooling and tasty as it is filled with nutrients. Nariyal Paani is naturally rich in minerals and vitamins that are needed by your body and is also great as a natural energy drink. Low in calories and yet filling, Nariyal Paani is the saviour for not only the common man but even for athletes and sports persons. it is great for your skin, hair, stomach, weight-loss, etc. Name it and this miracle drink can do it. Available at literally every street-corner in the country, to enjoy Nariyal Paani just slice open the top of a fresh green coconut, put in a straw and enjoy! P.S: Don’t forget to savour the ‘malai‘ later!
4. Rose Sherbet
The ultimate cooling drink and also a welcome drink in India, the pink coloured sherbet symbolises summers, relaxation, fun and bonding. Rose sherbet is a rose flavoured, dark pink coloured that is mixed in chilled water and served. It is completely sweet and though has no health benefits as such as it is laced with sugar, colour and artificial flavouring, it acts as a natural coolant and helps keep you comfortable in the sweltering heat. The sherbet comes in the form of a syrup and there are multiple brands that sell the syrup in India. To make Rose Sherbet, simply take rose syrup and add about 2 spoonfuls (or lesser, depending on your taste) to a glass. Add chilled water and stir well. If you find it overly sweet, you can even add a dash of lemon juice to it.
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5. Aam Panna
Made of raw mangoes, this sweet yet tangy drink is something every Indian loves and craves during the summers. The best part about the Aam Panna is you can make it and store it for weeks on end in the refrigerator. Aam Panna has all the goodness of mangoes coupled with the benefits of Indian spices and flavours. This drink brings all childhood memories rushing back and it is a drink that you just cannot stop drinking. Making the Aam Panna is easy too! Simply take large raw green mangoes, wash them and pop them in the pressure cooker. Once cooked, take their pulp and mash it completely till it is smooth. Add powdered cumin, black pepper and salt along with jaggery or sugar. Mix well. Take a spoonful of this concentrate in a glass, add chilled water and serve!
The sweeter counterpart of Chaas, Lassi is rich in flavour and when topped with that helping of ‘malai‘, ah it is sheer bliss! Though more popular in Northern India, Lassi is found all over the country and is loved by all Indians. Made of curd, this drink is completely healthy and tasty. Additionally, it is also filling which means it cools you down and keeps you full – both at the same time! A good glass of Lassi often spells Nirvana. To make Lassi, simply take thick curd and churn it really well. Do not add any water while churning. Add some powdered sugar to the curd and mix well. Top the smooth paste in a glass and top it with fresh, thick ‘malai’ or cream. Serve immediately.
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7. Kokum Sherbet
Indigenous to the Western regions of India, Kokum is a sour fruit which is often used in multiple culinary preparations in the country. This little fruit has it’s benefits in natural form as well as the dried form. The fruit is generally used to add a sour flavour to Indian curries or vegetables and is used as a substitute for lemon. Kokum oil is also used for cooking as is its juice. The juice of the Kokum fruit is extracted and mixed with sugar to give it a sweet consistency and make it syrupy. The syrup is then sold in the market. To make Kokum Sherbet, simply take some kokum syrup, add water, a dash of cumin powder (if needed), mix well and serve! Kokum is naturally cooling and its astringent properties help detox the body too!
8. Sattu Drink
Mainly found in Northern and Eastern India, Sattu is a mix of flour and spices which is used for multiple purposes. The flour is used for eating, in cooking as well as in the form of a drink. The best part about Sattu is that it is extremely nutritious and it is very versatile. You can have Sattu according to seasons – in summer it cools your body down and helps maintain equilibrium while in winters it acts as a nourishment and keeps you fuller for longer. To make Sattu, all you need is Bengal gram. Though traditionally it is roasted in an iron vessel, you can roast it in any vessel. Grind it to a fine powder. Add the powder in a glass, add some water, cumin powder, black pepper powder, black salt, lemon juice and mix well. Serve.
This drink is not very well known outside South India but it is amazingly rich and delicious. It is relatively simple to prepare and this sweet yet spicy drink is full of goodness. It is nourishing and will replenish all the essential nutrients your body loses in summers. Though slightly spicy, it is great for summers as it contains jaggery to cool the body down. To make Panakam, ake some grated jaggery and add it to water. Heat the mixture on a slow flame till the jaggery completely melts. Filter it through a fine muslin cloth to remove any lumps or impurities. Add lemon juice, dry ginger powder, cardamom powder and mix well. Refrigerate and serve chilled.
10. Watermelon Juice
Once again easily available all over India, watermelon as a fruit is consumed excessively in the summers as is its juice relished. Watermelon having a lot of water content keeps the body hydrated and keeps your skin from drying out in the summer. Watermelon juice is easily availabe at any fruit stall lining Indian streets and it is generally freshly made in front of you. However, if you’re concerned about hygiene, you can even make watermelon juice at home. Simply chope watermelon in small pieces and crush in a grinder. Take the crush and pour in a tall glass. Do not strain it but rather enjoy the juice with the pulp. Garnish with mint leaves and watermelon pieces on top.
This is nothing but your traditional Nimbu Paani but with a twist. Shikanji has all the benefits of the Nimbu Paani and then some more. While Nimbu Paani is made plainly with salt and sugar, when spices are madded to it, it becomes Shikanji. In fact, there are even ready made Shikanji powders available in the market! If you want to make Shikanji at home, make Nimbu Paani (follow step 1) and then add cumin powder, black pepper powder, black salt, dried ginger powder. Mix well, add ice cubes and serve chilled!
There are tons of other drinks like Ganna (sugarcane juice), Khus Juice, Jaljira, Thandai, Falooda, etc that too can be enjoyed in summers. So, which is your favourite drink to beat the heat? let us know in comments!