Soothing the sizzle

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These Desi thirst quenchers will cool you down and tantalise your taste buds

January this year has been one of the warmest in Sydney. We are still seeing temperatures hovering around the 30 degree mark, and at my home, the lassi moments continue from the summer months.
I’ve even tried that traditional Delhi summer drink jaljira which I’m happy to say, my kids enjoyed too. It was that refreshing!
Of course, I used the store-bought mix, and simply added chilled water and fresh mint, but for those of you who don’t know, this is like a spiced lemonade, a bit extra salty.
It is made of roasted cumin, mint and coriander paste, amchur (dried mango powder), rock salt, sugar, ginger and lemon, all of which make it a tangy, sizzling drink that cools you with the very first sip. The extra salt helps to replenish essential body salts that are lost in perspiration.
As a beverage, it can be drunk before meals as an appetiser, during meals as an accompaniment, or after meals as a digestive aid. But it is best drunk when you’ve just got into the house from the hot sun…

To make it even tangier, try making your jaljira with chilled lemonade instead of water. Die-hard jaljira fans will even sprinkle some boondi on top: non Delhiwallahs, you’ll never understand the sheer lip-smacking thrill of this!
If the jaljira has gone down so well, I thought to myself, I must try some thandai.
Another traditional summer drink from the north of India is called thandai. In fact, the very word thandai means “coolness” in Hindi, and it does its job brilliantly – no need to say much more! Essentially this is a cold almond-milk drink, and as such, is quite decadent.
The recipe is provided for you elsewhere on this page.
Serve in a tall glass with crushed ice. Decorate with almond slivers or powdered pistachios, or a clean rose petal.
You could also use other ‘cooling’ seeds like melon seeds (magaz), sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
The use of peppercorns, black or white is also common, if you can handle the mix with the sweetness of it all.
Or you can make a kaju-pista (cashew-pistachio) thandai instead of a badam (almond) one.

And of course there’s a ‘cheat’s version’ if you don’t want to go to all the hassle. But be warned, it is neither as healthy nor as tasty as the authentic item.
Blend the seeds and nuts of your choice with water to make a smooth paste. Mix with 1 litre milk and 1 can condensed milk.
If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, you can use soy or almond milk as a replacement for cow milk.
Pass the whole mixture through a cheesecloth (discard residue), and chill. Serve with garnish of choice.

  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 1 ½ cups milk (or milk substitute)
  • 4 tbsp sugar (or pure maple syrup for a healthier alternative)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 2 tbsp rosewater (optional)
  • A few strands saffron
  • 2 cups water, or as needed

Heat milk with sugar until sugar dissolves completely. Put in saffron strands and keep aside to cool.
Grind together fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cardamom and almonds by adding just enough water.
Blend again till smooth.
Strain the mix through a fine strainer or cheesecloth.
Pour almond extract into cold milk, add rose water if using, and chill.
To serve, pour over crushed ice.

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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