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The coolest food of the season

mumbai Updated: Mar 21, 2010 01:20 IST
Mini Pant Zachariah
Mini Pant Zachariah
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Is the heat making you listless and dull? Try a glass of cold limejuice with a bit of sugar, salt and a dash of cumin powder.

Or grab a tumbler of buttermilk. If neither is accessible, stop over at a fruit stall and help yourself to

tender coconut. You’ll be surprised how fast these quick-fix solutions work to recharge your energy-sapped system.

Peddar Road-based jewellery designer Reshma Mehta has a favoured recipe to beat the heat: “Panna (a juice made from boiled or roasted raw mango pulp). I don’t drink carbonated beverages — they make me feel bloated. I prefer my mother’s recipe for raw mango juice — the pudina (mint), coriander leaves, cumin seed powder and dash of black salt make it very tasty and refreshing.”

Pushpesh Pant, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and researcher of traditional Indian food, seconds that. “Traditional Indian cuisine,” he says, “contains redhydrant and restorative supplements in preparations like chutneys and sherbets, as well as the vast variety of raitas that we have.”

The key summer advisory for food is to eat light and include ingredients that have cooling properties, he says. Curd, cumin, khus, sandal, rose water, tamarind and anaardana (pomegranate seeds) are naturally cooling.

Go heavy on homemade salads and squash vegetables like bottle gourd, snake gourd, pumpkins, which have high water content.

If you don’t like these vegetables, the good professor has interesting alternatives. “Go for soups like gazpacho and chooza chaat (chaat made with smoked chicken cuts), Mediterranean dips and Thai salads instead of heavy spicy food,” he says.

Tofu, green Thai curries, hummus, moussaka and the Lebanese version of bhartha are very good alternatives to the hot Indian food we are used to.

Cold cuts are fairly foreign to the Indian food habit, but Pant says cold cuts, tandoori or dum make great fillings for pita bread sandwiches and wraps. “Steamed dhoklas and idlis, chaat items like dahi bhalla can be substituted for a main course,” he says.

And don’t forget sol kadi, that divine coastal preparation from Maharashtra. The diluted-coconut-milk-and-kokum base soothes the digestive system.

Dr Rupa Shah (48), an allopathic doctor who also practices alternative medicine, recommends fresh vegetable and fruit juices, especially cucumber, watermelon with mint, tulsi and fennel to stay cool.