Quench your thirst in India this summer

It can get really hot in India during the summer. We don’t even have the luxury of heatwaves, we have heat tsunamis. Last year, temperatures soared into the high 40s (that’s a 110+ in Fahrenheit). Although global warming might have meddled in the last couple of years, it’s always been hot.

While most rush to the mountains as the first bead of sweat trickles down their backs, the rest of us must make do with rickety fans and iced juices. And in true Indian over-achieving spirit, we’ve stuffed them full of life-saving goodness.

Chaas, buttermilk, ways to beat the summer heat in India Chaas, otherwise known as spiced buttermilk (Photo Credit – Scott Dexter)

Nimbu Pani

One of the best ways to beat the heat during the summer is a glass of Nimbu Pani. Also known as Shikanji in North India, it’s just plain Jane Lemonade at first. Then you add a little bit of salt with sugar, soda for bubbles, crushed mint leaves for colour, maybe ginger for flavour and top off the froth with a sprinkling of chaat masala. This will be your summer staple, particularly in Western and Northern India. You’ll find it at INR 10 a glass on every street corner. Though we’d recommend going someplace with tables and requesting mineral water be used in the process.

Lemonade, Numbu Pani, Local drinks in India A thirst-quenching lemonade type drink (Photo Credit – Christian Trachsel from Pixabay)

Jaljeera

A further take on the humble nimbu pani, it’s laced with a cumin based mixture that gives it a salty kick. The more posh households will serve it with a topping of boondi-tiny balls of deep-fried dough that soak up all the delicious juice and transform into soft, succulent little miracles.

Best local beverages in India A drink with a salty kick (Photo Credit – Caglar Araz)

Tender Coconut Water

Available across the country but the pride and joy of South India. Huge stacks of coconuts lie piled up on carts and makeshift stalls on every lazy roadside. Beside it you will find a rubbish bin that overflows with discarded shells and straws. It’s the healthiest and most delicious option around with the added bonus of slimy coconut flesh to sink your teeth into. The real reason it’s a winner though is the long and elaborate performance by the Nariyal Paani wallah (coconut-water man).

First, you’ll be asked to declare your preference-a coconut heavy with flesh or still tender with water. He’ll then swiftly grab at a few in quick succession, tapping with the back of his knife and listening keenly for a nuance that only his finely trained ears can recognize.

Suddenly finding the perfect nut, he’ll set it firmly against his thigh and commence slicing through the hard exterior to create a pointy tip. Which he will then dramatically behead, stab with a straw and dump in your hands with a theatrical flourish. How can you say no?

refreshing coconut water, benifits of Coconut water Sweet, refreshing coconut water (Photo Credit – Adriano Gadini)

Chaas/Lassi

Born from the same humble curds, these brothers are dramatically different on your tongue. The first is buttermilk, watered-down curd spiced with salt, chopped up green chillies, mint and coriander, churned to a froth and sprinkled with chaat masala. The second one is the classic Lassi. Thick, smooth and sweet, the still heavy curd is laced heavily with sugar or jaggery and often flavoured with strawberries or mangoes. Thus, giving it the consistency of a yum milkshake!

A very popular milk drink in Indian – Lassi (Photo Credit – Adam Jones)

Aam Panna

Born out of the flavour of the season-mangoes. This drink captures the cooling properties of the raw Kairi before it becomes a fat ripe mango. Also, famously known to cause heat boils.

The assured freshness of the ingredients, combined with the mangoes natural fortification with vitamins gives this drink, flavoured with salt and spices a particularly medicinal edge.

It’ll be pressed upon you by well-meaning aunties across the country. By fretting at the sweat on your brow and declaring you dead of dehydration without their help. Also rumoured to prevent tuberculosis, anaemia, cholera and dysentery.

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