From shikanji to buttermilk: Quick summer coolers you can make at home

Updated: May 24, 2020, 12:31 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi | Mumbai

These tangy, refreshing drinks handpicked from cookbooks are perfect to cool off during a summer that adults and kids are missing at home

Chef Shilarna Vaze with mango pina colada smoothie
Chef Shilarna Vaze with mango pina colada smoothie

My earliest memory of a summer thirst quencher is a big, red bottle of Roohafza. This was the mainstay of the season. Our choices with it were limited. It was either mixed with water or milk. I preferred neither, until much later in life, I learnt it tasted better with nimbu pani—giving it a certain je na sais quoi punch that lingered long after the sherbet was guzzled. As a child, I preferred the colourful concentrates of Rasna, which were painstakingly made by stirring large quantities of sugar, powder and liquid in water, until dissolved. These were then packed into plastic bottles, to be made into sherbet, only when guests came over. We even managed to secretly freeze them into kulfi moulds to make orange popsicles.

In her book, The Lucknow Cookbook, Padma Shri awardee and architect Sunita Kohli talks about the drinks made in her hometown to protect from the strong, harsh dry winds. Bel and falsay ka sherbet are quintessential to the region. There is also the lassi, thandai and nimbu ka sherbet, along with the famous aam ka panna. “The typical Lucknowi panna is different from how the rest of the country makes it. I even shared the recipe with Emine Erdogan, the wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on their last visit to India when they came to our studio in Delhi. What makes the panna different is the step where we roast the green mangoes. This refreshing summer beverage is cooling and prevents heatstroke. You can prepare the pulp and freeze it for use as and when required,” says Kohli.

Kairi aam ka panna

Aam panna
Aam panna

1 kg raw green mangoes
7 heaped tbsp powdered sugar
2 heaped tbsp jeera powder
1 tsp whole cumin seeds, lightly roasted on a griddle
30 fresh mint leaves
1 tsp kaala namak (rock salt)

Lightly roast the cumin seeds and grind them to get 2 heaped tablespoons of cumin powder. Pressure cook the whole raw green mangoes in a little water. Then discard the water. You may also roast the green mangoes on an open fire or gas stove until lightly roasted on the outside. Peel the mangoes and squeeze to collect the pulp in a dish. Discard the seed. Put the pulp in the freezer for about half an hour to chill. Put together the chilled pulp, sugar, salt, cumin powder and the chopped mint leaves and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add a little water and then again mix well. The mixture should be pulpy. Pour over crushed ice and add chilled water to it. Serve garnished with whole mint leaves.

In her book, Party Like A Star, chef Shilarna Vaze has revealed recipes and hacks from Bollywood’s best planned parties. There are plenty of ideas to pick up from for your next soiree. In the Lemon Baby Shower menu for Mira Kapoor featured a mango colada smoothie alongside lemon chia fresca and pineapple, apple ginger mint juice. Of the recipe, Vaze says in the book, “Moms these days are super-conscious of what goes into their little ones’ bellies, and this bright, superfood smoothie is always a sure-fire way to give the sugary colas a miss!”

Mango colada smoothie

1 alphonso mango peeled and cubed (any sweet mango will do too)
1 tsp basil seeds (sabza) 1 tsp
1 tsp goji berries
¼ cup tender coconut flesh + ½ cup coconut water
4 X 1 inch slices pineapple (cored and tough bits removed)
½ tsp moringa powder (optional)
6 tbsp warm water

Soak sabza seeds in 3 tbsp of warm water in a bowl for 15 minutes. If you’re using goji berries, soak them in 3 tbsp of warm water in a separate bowl. Combine pineapple slices and coconut water in a juicer (strain if using a regular blender). Add mango, drained goji berries and coconut flesh to the pineapple ginger juice. Drain the sabza seeds and mix them into the smoothie or add on top with the moringa powder. Serve chilled.

Chef Amit Puri
Chef Amit Puri

Chef Amit Puri is a self-confessed lassi junkie. On one visit to Bhubaneshwar, he tasted a local delicacy, chenna poda, which translates to burnt cheese. “The classic baked cheesecake is native to Orissa. The outer caramelised burnt crust of this dessert and the crumbly— creamy texture inside makes the dessert a perfect ingredient to blend into a lassi. Having said that, if you can’t find it, chenna poda could be replaced with any Indian mithai you like. For instance, I would try a sweet lassi with saffron peda, kalakand or milk cake as well,” says Puri.

Chenna poda lassi

Chenna poda lassi
Chenna poda lassi

For Lassi
3 cups yogurt
3 tbsp sugar
6 tsp rose water
Tbsp crumbled chenna poda

For rabdi
500 ml full fat milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
Garnish of choice of dry fruits

To make the lassi, whisk yogurt, sugar and rose water in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add chenna poda and refrigerate. For rabdi, heat milk in a heavy bottom pan and cook stirring continuously on a medium low flame until it reduces and thickens. Add in the sugar and stir. Transfer into a bowl and refrigerate. To serve, fill 80 per cent of a serving glass with chenna poda lassi and top it up with rabri. Garnish with toasted and crushed dry fruits.

Summer times and shikanji

Refreshing jal jeera lemonade with added roasted cumin, pepper and black salt is often sold on handcarts in giant clay matkas on the streets of North India during summers.

Drink for the soul

Rooh Afza, literally translates to soul refresher. It’s a concentrated drink formulated in 1906. Its specific Unani recipe combines several ingredients that are believed to be cooling agents, used as a remedy for the hot summer winds of Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Basil, buttermilk to your rescue

Add sabza seeds to all your drinks to increase their coolant property. In buttermilk, there are enough digestive, probiotic, hydrating and reviving properties. There is no reason why you shouldn’t gulp down tall glasses of it this summer.

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