travelBLOGueHere are some local drinks and eating tips to maintain your cool in Gujarat's rising heat.
How to Beat the Summer HeatBy Kirkin
Beating the heat during Gujarat’s summers can be challenging when the temperatures keep rising, regularly hitting 45 degrees Celsius in the peak of the season. To deal with the heat and its affect on the body, follow in the footsteps of the locals. Try some of these seasonal foods and regional drinks to keep cool, energized and hydrated.
As summer approaches, Gujarati households make subtle changes in their daily diet—reducing spices, using less oil and eating foods with a lighter consistency. A variety of lentils, vegetables and fruits are incorporated into meals, according to seasonal availability, suitability to the changing climate and their inherent properties. In central Gujarat, moong dal is served more often than the usual toor staple because it is the easiest to digest of the pulses. As mangos come into season fajeto, a lightly spiced curry made from ripe mangos, and ras, a delicious mango puree, become a regular part of meals. When mixed with jaggery and jeera (cumin), kachhi keri (raw mango) is said to help deal with the impact of the lu, the hot wind which accompanies summer. These ingredients are used in pickles, drinks and other dishes during this season.
Vegetable dishes are also adapted to seasonal availability, marking a shift from leafy green vegetables to water-rich vegetables such as doudi and turee, both from the gourd family. Summer is also the season for melons, which are sweet and cooling according to Ayurvedic principles and thus suitable for this time of year. Roadside stalls pop up across the state selling watermelons (tarbuch), cantelope/musk (tetee) and honeydew melons (sharkartetee).
Along with different foods, Gujarati cuisine incorporates a delicious range of beverages. Made from a variety of ingredients including fruits, grasses, spices and dairy products, and served fresh or as diluted syrup, each comprises elements which will refresh and rehydrate the body. Look out for some of these drinks as you travel around Gujarat or try to make some for yourself.
Made from kokum syrup and flavored with rock salt, cumin and sometimes lime, this sweet, sour and slightly spiced purple drink is said to prevent sunstroke. Along with drinks, kokum is also dried and used as a souring agent for dals and other dishes in Gujarat, Maharashtra and further south.
Chhaas is commonly served at mealtimes throughout the year to aid digestion. In summer, this slightly sour and salty drink becomes a popular refreshment throughout the day. Chhaas can be made from buttermilk (the leftover whey when cream or curd has been churned to make butter), or yogurt diluted with water. Salt and sometimes cumin or other spices are added to give more flavor.
As mangos come into season, this thick, sweet, spicy drink made from cooked raw mangos becomes popular, especially when coming inside from the heat.
Vendors from across the city set up stalls with glasses full of lemons to make this simple refreshing drink, comprised of water, sugar, lemon and either sea or rock salt and sometimes cumin. You can make it yourself by adding 8 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each liter of water, then lemon and/or cumin to taste. It’s a great homemade alternative to oral rehydration salts.
Another beverage you can try is Kali Draksh. Soak black raisins with coriander seeds and a little sugar overnight. Drink the juice for a cooling start to the day, and then chew the raisins on an empty stomach half an hour before eating to kick start digestion.
Other sharbats you may see around Gujarat are variyali (made from fennel), gulkand (rose syrup), khevro (screwpine), phalsa (a small sour purplish berry), khus (a type of grass) and fudina (mint). Many of these are also popular flavors for gola (ice candies or snow cones); during the summer months these street side stalls are bustling with families and young people enjoying the variety of flavors.
Look out for chhaas in Gujarati thali restaurants or packaged at Amul outlets across the state. If you are in Ahmedabad you can try many of these drinks at House of MG, Vishalla, Girish Cold Drinks, Swati Snacks or Seva Cafe. Several gola vendors around the city also use filtered water.
Special thanks to Shefali for the Kali Draksh recipe.
Posted on: Apr 27, 2011