Each time I look at the beverages section of the menu card of any eating joint, I wonder why all Indian beverages are not included in the list. Maybe because they can be easily made at home- that seems like a valid point. Nevertheless Indian beverages have a world wide appeal because of their flavour and soothing qualities. They are refreshing and healthy, another plus point. These beverages are a pleasant relief during the scorching hot summer months of India. So it is important for me to elaborate on some of the most appealing thirst quenchers our country has to offer!
Most kids have grown up drinking gallons of Aam Panna and Nimbu Pani after a tiring day at school. These drinks are not limited to any age-group; Nimbu Pani is known for its cleansing effects and is consumed by fitness freaks of all ages. Thandai and Lassi remind me of festive occasions such as Holi, Diwali and even wedding celebrations. Tea is now available in several varieties, ranging from Tulsi, to Cardomom and Herbs to name a few. South Indian Coffee is available in any part of the country these days; each region has its own style of making tea. These are the more prominent beverages that we all are aware of, at large.
Then there is Chass (butter milk), a healthy alternative for aerated drinks. The Mughals have left an indelible mark, not just in Indian cuisine but also in beverages. Sharbat, as we all know it, was first prepared in the Mughal era, using a mix of fresh fruits and flower petals. A variety of fresh-fruit sharbats are available at several joints these days, coming up with new flavours from time to time. Cea, a mixture of coffee and tea, is a popular South Indian beverage that is highly palatable for those who love the flavours of both.
In ancient times, some beverages even stemmed out of sacrificial rituals. One such example is that of Soma. It was made by crushing leaves between stones, extracting its juice, mixing it with milk and filtering it through sheepskin. For those who prefer tangy beverages, there’s Jal Jeera, with a dash of spices, lemon, sugar and mint leaves. Every second market place these days has a chuski vendor. Chuskis are made of crushed ice, topped with flavoured syrups such as Kala Khatta and Khas. Kala Khatta is made of the Indian Blackberry, mixed with black salt and pepper. On the other hand, Khas is a refreshing sweet drink, made exotic by adding dry fruits into the mixture. Finally, milk and fruits shakes are healthy substitutes for packaged drinks.
In terms of consumer tastes, while some people choose alcoholic beverages, it is also true that a large section of the population has become health-conscious and aware of the ill effects of hard and aerated drinks. We have such a healthy variety of palatable beverages to choose from. What more, they are easy to make and extremely affordable. The order of the beverages in the menu cards may not change, but what needs to change is the way we think and the things we want.
Go natural. The Indian way!
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