Beat the Heat with these summer coolers



My second article in the Vijayawada Times Of India…..

It is pragmatically said; summer is when hair gets lighter, skin gets darker, water gets warmer, drinks get colder, music gets louder, nights get longer, and life gets better. But in reality, the dog days are here and Blazewada is living up to its name. The heat is on!

Eating and drinking certain foods during hot weather helps cool you down so let’s explore summer eating to beat the heat. “If you are bored with drinking only plain old water then switch to the latest ambrosia-Detox or flavored water which has become the rage,” says young mother, Dimpy Kaur! Cucumbers are naturally cool, Lemons remove toxins and aid in digestion while fresh mint leaves add a pop of refreshing flavor to your drink. Detox water can be served plain or sweetened with some honey to those with a sweet tooth. Recipe for H2O enhanced with lime, basil, cucumber is very simple. Cut one lemon and half a fresh cucumber into roundels, toss into a glass jug preferably or even a mason jar, add a handful of fragrant, mint leaves and pour in 2 lts of cold water. Let this sit in the fridge overnight to let all the yummy flavors steep and infuse the water. When you want to drink it, put in a ton of ice cubes, pour, and enjoy. You can add any fresh fruits of your choice too like strawberry, orange, lime, watermelon and so on.

One popular food item for summer season is yoghurt. Life without yoghurt in south India is simply- unthinkable. Yogurt is said to be digestive and is also good for losing weight. What better way then but use it as a cooling and nutritious dessert. Moushmi, a graphic designer says,” I wanted to try something different and made a dessert with the king of fruit-Mango and Yoghurt; a no cook Mango-Yogurt Cooler. In a large cup of hung yogurt add half a cup of castor sugar, 4 powdered cardamoms and mix well. Pour into individual bowls or glasses. In another bowl, add half cup of powdered sugar to one large cup of mango puree and spoon over the yoghurt layer. Garnish with sliced almonds and mango chunks Chill and serve. It tastes divine if I may say so myself”!

Anju Berry, who conducts cooking classes and is an adept homemaker, shares her magic potion that protects from heat stroke and reduces heat in the body. She says that Aam Panna, made with kacchi kairi is a common drink up north in summer.”I love the drink for the bouquet of flavours in it- sweet, spicy and tangy. Pressure cook 1 kg raw mangoes in water, discard the water,  squeeze the pulp in a bowl, add sugar, normal and black salt, cumin seed powder and mint leaves; mix in the blender, strain through a colander, add cold water and serve cold in a tall glass and garnish with mint. For the calorie conscious replace the sugar with jaggery.”

“In spite of the sultry weather, I look forward to summer mainly for taati munjalu (ice apple), gushes Bharti, a young professional. They are a natural coolant, contain vitamins and minerals, improve digestion and work as a mild laxative too. Every day, a munjalu vendor comes home and delivers fresh produce. In my childhood, my mom used to peel the tender munjalu, add some sugar, chill and served it to us. Now I have made my own concoction- Munjalu Sherbet; allow milk to simmer till it reduces to three-fourth of its original quantity, add sugar and cardamom powder and continue to simmer for few minutes. Turn off flame and bring to room temperature. Muddle the peeled ice apples with the evaporated milk. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and serve with a dash of Roohafza. It is yummy and in this heat, it feels like manna from heaven.”

Sharing her grandma’s recipe of Pachi Pulusu or Raw Rasam, Sunita Pidikiti says, “In summer we should opt for a light diet which can be easily digested, cools down the body temperature and keeps you refreshed.” According to her,” Spending hours cooking in this scorching heat is a torture and I resort to my grandma’s easy peasy recipe most of the days in summer. For preparing this, just take tamarind juice in a bowl, add a few crushed red chilies, little jaggery, chopped onions, curry leaves and salt to taste. Temper it or not is up to individual taste. The sweetness of the jaggery offsets the tangy flavor of the tamarind and the spice of red chillis and crunchy raw onions intensifies the flavor. When eaten with steamed rice it is delectable.”

Choose a diet to ensure a cool mind and a cooler body this summer, put your feet up, take a deep breath, relax and take sips of your very own favorite beverage. Feel the difference and stay cool this summer!

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