Drink to your health

27 March,2024 09:36 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Anindita Paul

This summer, ditch packaged juices and aerated colas for healthy, refreshing homemade beverages

File pic

What do you eat when it's too hot to cook? Well, home chefs in the city have been making the most of the rising temperatures to encourage their families to drink their calories instead - in the form of refreshing summer drinks. "I enjoy drawing inspiration from traditional summer drinks, which are designed to keep the body cool and are packed with nutritional gains, this time of the year. Although smoothies and green juices are all the rage on the Internet, I prefer those recipes that can be easily rustled up using common pantry ingredients. And, my family loves them too, as these drinks have become a part of our summer family tradition," says culinary expert and consultant chef Reetu Uday Kugaji.

Reetu Uday Kugaji

Keep it simple

When looking for inspiration for your summer flavours, you don't always have to reinvent the wheel, Kugaji explains. "Add your own touch to staples such as lassi, to which I add a pinch of green cardamom powder, or chaas to which I add mint and cucumber for added freshness. For convenience, I prepare certain syrups and concentrates well in advance and store them - these include a sugar-free kokum syrup, and a tamarind and jaggery solution that can be used in imli ka amlana or panakam. Squeezing out the juice of a few lemons and freezing it in ice trays ensures quick and easy nimbu paani," she adds, sharing three simple beverage recipes that will keep you cool and collected, all summer long.

Gajar ki kanji

Kanji is a fermented tangy and refreshing beverage from north India. It is rich in probiotics, which help with gut health.

. 2 carrots
. 1 beetroot (peeled)
. 2 tsp salt
. 1 tsp black salt
. 1 tsp black pepper powder
. 1/2 tsp asafoetida
. 4 tsp yellow mustard seeds, coarsely ground
. 1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, preferably Reshampatti chilli powder
. 1 1/2 litre boiled water

Peel and wash the carrots. Remove the head and tail and discard. Cut the carrots and beetroot into batons. Add the carrots to an airtight sterilised and dry jar. Add salt, rock salt, black pepper powder, asafoetida, coarsely ground yellow mustard seeds, and red chilli powder. Mix well with a clean and dry spoon. Pour in the lukewarm water and seal the mouth of the jar tightly, with a food-grade, unbleached muslin cloth. Place the jar in the sunlight for three to five days. Shake the jar every day to ensure that the ingredients are well-combined and mixed properly. The kanji is ready to be consumed after this period. Refrigerate the kanji for at least two hours prior to serving it. Serve all the kanji within three days.

Landa baguli dohi sharbat

This is a popular summer drink from Odisha.

. 1 tsp landa baguli seeds (sabza or sweet basil seeds soaked in water for at least one hour)
. 1 cup fresh yogurt
. 1/4 cup sugar (add as per taste)
. Water as required
. 1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Whisk the yogurt and sugar together in a large, dry glass bowl until the sugar has completely dissolved into the yogurt. Add the soaked sweet basil seeds. Add water, mix and pour into individual glasses. Add freshly-squeezed lemon juice for added zing. Serve.


‘Panakam' is a Sanskrit word that means a sweet drink. This simple summer beverage is known as Panakam in Telugu, Panaka in Kannada and Panagam in Tamil.

. 3/4 cup roughly chopped jaggery
. 4 cups chilled water
. 1/2 tsp pounded black peppercorn
. 1/2 tsp Green cardamom powder
. 4 tsp Fresh ginger juice
. 1 squeezed lemon
. A pinch of edible camphor (optional)
. 1 sprig tulsi (holy basil)

Add the jaggery and water to a large glass bowl and mix well. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes, until the jaggery has completely dissolved. Strain through an unbleached muslin cloth, to remove impurities. Add salt, black pepper and green cardamom powder. Add the ginger and lemon juice. Stir and mix well. Add a pinch of edible camphor, if desired, and strain again. Garnish with the holy basil leaves. Serve chilled.

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