Indian foods attract high praise for their delish taste, and one is usually left lost for words when describing the intense flavours. Sure enough, Indian cuisine is known for its large assortment of dishes, subtle flavours and variety of spices and herbs. As much as people have been vocal about their love for Indian food, little is known or said about Indian beverages. But the country has always boasted an impressive array of traditional Indian drinks. These are not only refreshing but some of them also help to increase immunity and fight indigestion.
So, here are the recipes for some of the most famous drinks in India. Mind you, these recipes tend to vary in different regions. But all of them taste great and have been passed down for generations.
One of the advantages of living in a tropical country is that you can relish various seasonal fruits. Mango is one such fruit that is seasonally available in most parts of the country, which makes it a common ingredient in many summer drinks in India. To make Aam Panna, boil, steam or pressure cook unripe green mangoes until they are soft and pulpy. Once the pulp is removed, mix it with sugar, salt and spices. This refreshing summer drink not only helps to keep the body cool during the hot months but is also rich in Vitamin C and iron.
Walking through Indian streets during the hot summer months, one is bound to come across the sight of vendors selling Nimbu Pani. This desi version of lemonade is one of the most popular drinks in India. Freshly squeezed lemons are mixed with herbs and spices like cumin powder, chaat masala and black salt. It’s one of the best Indian beverages that acts as a coolant for your body.
This creamy and comforting drink is nicknamed “bedtime drink” as most people have it before going to bed. Turmeric powder and crushed long pepper are mixed into hot or warm full-fat milk to prepare Haldi Doodh. While it is most famous as an ayurvedic remedy to treat different ailments like cold, cough and congestion, its use is not limited to just when you’re unwell. You can also have a slightly sweetened version of this beverage to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Locally known as “filter kaapi” in most of South India, filter coffee is an Indian variant of the popular coffee beverage. While there are different types of coffee in India, filter coffee stands out for its aroma and strong flavour. When preparing this Indian beverage, make sure you use filter coffee powder and not instant coffee powder, as that will make a difference in the taste. Repeatedly long pouring the coffee between the steel tumbler and dawara (container) — to mix and cool the coffee — forms the classic frothy layer over the coffee.
Nannari Sherbet is another famous South Indian drink made from nannari (Indian Sarsaparilla) roots. Apart from being a natural coolant for the body, this traditional Indian drink also acts as a blood purifier and helps cure urinary infections and constipation. You will find nannari syrup in local grocery shops, or you can make fresh syrup at home using its roots. Mix it well with water and lime juice. Go ahead and add ice if you want to make it cooler.
Thandai is another famous drink in India, made with a mix of nuts, seeds and spices. It is most popular in the Northern parts of India and is traditionally prepared during the festivals of Holi and Mahashivratri. Blend soaked nuts and spices and mix it with water or milk to make a thandai paste. Then simply mix the paste with milk when you want to drink thandai.
No matter how hot the weather is, the Indian love affair with chai goes back generations. Masala Chai is, hands down, the most popular drink in India. Its ingredients include black tea powder, water, milk, sugar, spices like cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, ginger and herbs like mint leaves and lemongrass. Begin by adding crushed spices to a pan of boiling water. Then, add your preferred herbs and boil it for 2-3 minutes. Next, add sugar and tea powder according to your taste and boil for 1 minute.
Why settle for plain ol’ water when there is such a wide variety of Indian beverages to test, try and love? This summer, experiment and enjoy India’s abundant flavours through these delightful drinks!