Many health practitioners advocate drinking plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty, because by the time you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated. According to Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, dehydration often produces symptoms that are diagnosed as illness by physicians, but can be avoided simply by drinking more fluids. He says, “You are not sick, your are thirsty.”
Any watery fluid, tea, milk, buttermilk, soy milk, or fruit juice will hydrate the body and help to maintain circulatory stability and heat balance. Here are some recipes for drinks to include in your picnics or summer fiestas. However, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Clean, purified water.

ICED TEA

Iced teas are not traditional drinks of India but they are gaining popularity in Indian cities. I learned to make good iced tea, after I moved to New York City during a hot, humid summer. There is nothing as refreshing as a tall glass of cool iced tea on a long, hot summer day.

3 cups purified water, chilled
3 cups purified water, boiling
10 to 12 fresh mint leaves, veins removed
1 to 2 tablespoons good quality loose black tea such as Darjeeling or same amount of good quality green tea
freshly squeezed juice of 2 to 3 lemons or limes
sugar or honey to taste
ice cubes

Pour the chilled water into a pitcher and set aside. Finely chop the mint leaves, leaving three or four leaves whole. Add the chopped mint to the boiling water and boil for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, add the tea leaves, cover, and steep for five minutes. Then strain the tea and pour it into the pitcher. Add lemon juice and sugar or honey. Mix thoroughly. Pour into three or four glasses with ice cubes. Decorate with whole mint leaf in each glass, and serve.

LASSI

Lassi is a favorite drink in India. Whether you are looking for an energizing liquid meal on a hot day or some relief after eating a delicious but hot masala dosa, lassi is the perfect cooling agent. Lassi is made with yogurt or buttermilk, water, and ice. It is often sweetened with a fruit and sugar.

PLAIN LASSI

3 cups yogurt or combination of half yogurt and half buttermilk
3 cups purified water
a few pinches of cumin powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup crushed ice or several small pieces of ice

Combine the yogurt or yogurt-and-buttermilk with water in the blender, adding a bit of cumin powder and salt. Serve in tall glasses that are filled with crushed or broken ice pieces.

SWEET LASSI

3 cups yogurt or combination of half yogurt and half buttermilk
3 cups purified water
¼ cup sugar or your choice of sweetener to taste
1 cup crushed ice or several very small pieces of ice
a few drops of edible rose water (optional)

Combine the yogurt or buttermilk-and-yogurt mixture with the water in a blender, adding the sweetener. Pour in tall glasses filled with crushed or broken pieces of ice. Add a few drops of optional rose water and stir before serving.

MANGO LASSI

Mango lassi is my favorite. For a vegan recipe soy yogurt blends well with mango.
2 large or four medium ripe mangoes
3 cups yogurt or soy yogurt
3 cups purified water
2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
ice cubes

Select mangoes that are so ripe that the skins look a bit wrinked. Squeeze the mango by rolling it gently but thoroughly between your hands. Cut off the tip where the fruit comes to a point. With firm and steady pressure squeeze the juice into a mixing bowl. Some juice can be extracted from the pit but do not allow any fiber. Combine the yogurt, mango extract, sugar, and water in the jar of a blender or food processor, and blend well. Pour into tall glasses with ice cubes and serve.

Lazy Lassi: If you do not want to work with fresh mango, substitute it with three cups of mango puree (available in Asian markets).

Fruit Lassi: Substitute bananas or strawberries for mangoes to create your favorite fruit lassi.

ANISE DRINK

121e108275ad271120a1cd8bc643a21b-3Freshly made anise drink promotes digestion and is often offered to children to relieve upset stomach. It is also a popular homemade beverage to serve to guests who do not care for caffeinated drinks such as cola or chai. It tastes somewhat like root beer without carbonation.

3 tablespoons anise seeds
2 cups purified water
1 cup purified water, chilled
lemon juice
sugar to taste

Boil the anise seeds in two cups of water for five minutes. Pour the liquid with the seeds into the jar of a blender or a food processor, and blend until the seeds are partially crushed. Strain the liquid using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Pour the liquid into a jar and add one cup of cold water. Serve with ice cubes.

TAMARIND COOLER

Various delicacies are made from tamarind, a sweet-and-sour tropical pod full of vitamin C. This drink is sold in cans at Latin-American grocery stores. But most of these canned drinks contain preservatives and are over-sweetened. Here is a recipe for a fresh tamarind drink you can make at home.

Purchase ripened, dry tamarind pods with brown brittle outer shells available at Asian or Latino markets. If not, the dehydrated compressed blocks of tamarind are more easily found in Indian grocery shops.

12 to 14 fresh brown-skinned tamarind pods (preferred)
or substitute 4 to 5 big tamarind chunks separated from compressed tamarind block
1½ cups of warm water
1 quart chilled water
sugar, honey, or other sweetener to your taste

First make tamarind sauce as follows: If using the pods, remove the shells and the stringy fibers adjoining the tamarind pods. Then rinse them and place them in a bowl of warm water. Leave them to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. The soaked tamarind will be swollen and plump. Rub the pods with your fingers to squeeze the pulpy flesh surrounding the seeds into the water. Soon the water will turn into a thick sauce, and you can separate the thin membrane and the seeds from the sauce. Remove and discard seeds and membrane, and set the sauce aside.

If you are using compressed, dehydrated tamarind, soak the chunks in warm water for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure the compressed pieces do not contain any seeds. Then place the softened tamarind in a jar of a blender or food processor with its soaking water and blend until it turns into a sauce. Set it aside.

To make the cooler, strain the sauce using a coarse sieve. Stir in the chilled water and sweetener. Mix well and serve.

Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff, author of Flavors of India: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, lives in San Francisco, where she is a manager of Other Avenues, a health-food store. Her daughter Serena Sacharoff is an illustrator and art student.

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