Too hot to handle? Beat the heat with these refreshing and delicious summer coolers
Is it just me or did spring completely skip Pakistan this year?
This is the season when it is especially important to stay hydrated for optimal health and of course beauty. Your body will crave more fluids as you are naturally perspiring more; sometimes I feel like a camel in the summer and just guzzle away fluids, which is saying something since I don’t get thirsty easily.
Of course pure water is always the best, but if you are like me, a little flavour is always needed. Unfortunately, many popular summer drinks are filled with sugar and chemicals that are not beneficial in terms of health or hydration for that matter. But there are so many other good and healthy choices that do not require any effort at all! In the sun drenched days and long warm nights of summer, it’s so nice to kick back with a homemade, healthy and refreshing drink.
Here are two of my go-to choices when I want to beat the heat. I decided to go with one desi drink and one with a thora farangi (slightly European) touch.
For me, lassi brings up two memories which I always want to relive. One, exploring the Turkish seaside city of Side in possibly the hottest day of August. Second, LUMS days where Sunday Lahori sirri paye/ naan/ nihari nashtas could not be complete without having this cool, refreshing drink – which mind you has the after effects of bhang and puts one, well me in particular, in a deep lull!
Lassi is an extremely popular, rich and creamy subcontinent drink made using yogurt and water/milk. Originating from Punjab, it is now enjoyed all over the world. Of course the names vary: Ayran in Turkey and Laban in Saudi Arabia. I would actually dub it the world’s first smoothie.
According to ancient Indian texts, Lassi was once the preserve of India’s Maharajas and was widely used in Hindu rituals. In old times, people would have lassi because they wouldn’t get hungry quickly afterward and they could wait until lunch to eat again. There are mainly two types – sweet and salty lassi. I’ll be making the former for this blog.
There are important health benefits attached to the drink as well. The chief amongst them is the fact that it helps solve digestion problems because it reduces acidity in the stomach, colonises the gut with healthy bacteria, improves the immune system and serves to keep the internal organs cool during hot summers. It is also rich in protein, which is essential for building muscles. Traditionally, lassi is made using a wooden whisk but nowadays a blender does an equally great job and in less time.
Plain low-fat yogurt – 2 cups
Sugar – ¼ cup
Ground cardamom – ½ tsp
Ice cubes – 6
Black pepper – for garnishing
Blend yogurt, sugar, cardamom and ice cubes together until smooth. Serve cold.
I always like making variations of fruit juices. Unlike most other juices, watermelon juice keeps the fibre which is necessary for good digestion. Other juices that don’t keep the fibre are healthy, yes, but the body does end up storing sugars instead of digesting them along with the fibre. As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup. Amongst other things, watermelon fights cancer, helps lower inflammation and oxidative damage, contains Vitamins A and C, which are important for skin and hair health. Hence, watermelon juice is a super healthy all-natural juice that tastes absolutely delightful!
Grewia asiatica (falsa) – let’s stick with the Urdu name here – are sweet, nutritious and wildly popular. Often labelled a “superfood,” they are low in calories, are believed to contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables, protect cholesterol in the blood from becoming damaged, and help protect against ageing and cancer among other things. Falsa is also often advised to people who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, colds, coughs, and sore throats. When consumed during summers, it provides a much-needed cooling effect.
Couple these two fruits up, add a bit of mint for refreshment and you have a healthy energy drink ready!
Lemon – Half (optional) for a tangy touch
Blend the watermelon, falsa, mint leaves and ice cubes until smooth. Strain through a sieve, pushing the juice through with a spatula.
All photos: Arhama Siddiqa
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