When the Sun God starts blessing us with light and heat, the days become longer, the cuckoo starts singing and green mangoes jostle in heaps in market the Indian summer is here. It will be hot and humid for the next few months.
While coping with the heat cool drinks become mandatory for hydration. There is a range of cool drink options available in the market that may satiate the thirst but aren’t always healthy.
What Does Ayurveda Say?
Ayurveda’s renowned text Charaka Samhita recommends maintaining the health of the healthy (Swasthyashya Swasthy Rakshanam) than curing diseases of the diseased (Aturashya Vikara Prashamanancha).
To attain this objective, a daily (Dinacharya) and seasonal regime (Ritucharya) is recommended. Summer season or Grishma Ritu (Mid-May till Mid-July) is characterized by dullness and fatigue caused by the depletion of Kapha Dosha and aggravation of Vata Dosha due to hot winds and intense sun.
Ayurveda prescribes plenty of fluids, avoid pungent, acidic, and salty food. It discourages the intake of cold food, especially the ice-cold food and beverages that disrupt Agni, the digestive fire. It suggests including drinks that lower the body temperature without negatively impacting the digestive system.
Leading nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar suggests including nimbu paani, kokum sharbat, neera (coconut sap drink) and jaggery water (gud ka pani) to keep yourself hydrated in the summers.
Here is a list of healthy drinks for summer.
Ragi Ambil from Karnataka and Maharashtra is a popular drink. Rich in minerals and vitamins and can satiate hunger. It can be prepared in the morning and enjoyed throughout the day. Try this simple recipe.
3 tbsp Ragi (Finger Millets) flour
6-7 tbsp curd
1 tsp garlic paste/curry leaves paste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 pinch of asafoetida
Black Salt to taste
Water for buttermilk
Mix ragi flour by adding a little water and make a smooth batter.
Add more water to attain a thin consistency.
Cook on low heat stirring continuously.
Add salt and garlic paste or curry leaves paste. Keep stirring.
Once the mixture starts thickening remove from heat and let it cool.
Whisk curd with 3-4 glasses of ice-cold water to make buttermilk.
Add asafoetida, cumin powder and black salt and whisk to a thin consistency.
Add this to the ragi mixture.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.
Sattu called Saktu in Ayurveda is often called a superfood.
According to this text, it is the powder of roasted and de-husked Yava (barley). Today, we have two types of sattu one with barley and with channa. Both are great for reducing Vata and Ama. Sattu cools the body and is anti-inflammatory.
Mix 2-3 tsp of sattu powder in a glass of water, add jaggery and a pinch of cardamom, and mix. For a different taste add black salt, roasted cumin powder, and coriander leaves.
This is made by churning dahi or buttermilk, known as chaas, chaanch, or mattha. One of the easiest and most satisfying probiotic drinks. You can have it plain, sweetened, or mixed with salt and seasoned with cumin, ginger, chillies and green coriander.
Indian summer is incomplete without Aam Panna prepared all over the country. It is made by either roasting or steaming the green mangoes and removing the pulp when cooled.
The pulp is mashed, mixed with sugar/jaggery, and seasoned with fresh mint leaves, roasted cumin powder, black salt, and black pepper powder. The sweet version contains jaggery/sugar and cardamom powder.
Bael or wood apple is an extremely cooling summer fruit. It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, can relieve diarrhoea and indigestion. It is rich in vitamin C, some vitamin B and beta carotene.
This drink is a great option to hydrate the body and satisfies any sweet craving. This is made by soaking, mashing, and straining the pulp, adding jaggery or sugar, cumin powder, and black salt.
Phalsa or the Indian Sherbet Berry (grewia asiatica) is a popular choice for a summer drink. Phalsa is easy to digest and is rich in vitamin C, contains sodium, iron, and antioxidants. It regulates electrolyte imbalance; boosts iron levels, decreases fatigue and dizziness. It is prepared in a similar way as the Bael drink.
This traditional drink is a must for Holi. Thandai boosts energy, builds immunity, and detoxifies. It improves memory and skin health. Thandai masala is made from almonds, poppy seeds, melon seeds, rose petals, fennel seeds, cardamom, black pepper, and saffron.
The seeds, nuts, and spices are soaked and ground into a very fine paste. It the past, this paste was strained through a muslin cloth for smooth consistency. It is then stirred with milk and sugar and garnished with saffron and rose petals.
Tips for Healthy Summer Drinks
Stock lemons, raw mangoes, phalsa. bael fruits, fresh mint, and coriander
Make sweet or salty lassi
Make lemon syrup. Boil 3 cups of sugar with water to make a sugar syrup for 1 cup of lemon juice. When sugar is dissolved, cook it further for 15 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice immediately to this hot syrup. Cool and store. Take 2 tablespoons of the mixture, add cumin powder, black salt, and mint leaves, chill and serve. The lemon concentrate stays well for many months at room temperature.
To reduce sugar in the nimbu paani and aam panna and add plain salt, black salt, cumin, black pepper powder and finely chopped mint leaves.
Tamarind (imly) also makes a great drink. Soak it in water. Remove the pulp and add jaggery, salt, and cumin powder.
Tender coconut water is great option. Store them and encourage kids to have it.
The fast pace of life has forced us to find easy solutions. Buying over the counter artificial cool drinks laden with artificial colours, chemicals and preservatives are convenient but unhealthy
Try these drinks this summer and bring the ancient food wisdom back to your diet. A little effort can help you enjoy the happy taste of health.