Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Monday, June 18, 2018 09:25:15 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Secret ingredients for a cool summer

photo by

By
02nd-Jun-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Life Desk :
When the sun beams brighter than the dazzling amaltas in the sub-continent, it cues the onset of sultry days. Those who have spent summertime in India know that it doesn't cede its hold up till nearly September; its spell broken only by fleeting dust storms and showers. The Indian summer has always been unrelenting, and with climate change and soaring temperatures, how does one keep cool in a season whose vagaries claim lives every year and whose less dire consequences include exhaustion, dehydration, diarrhoea, syncope (fainting) or rashes?
The answer, perhaps, lies in our ancient texts which have detailed accounts of season-appropriate fare in a land where the cuisines morph from region to region. "The Charakasamhita, an Ayurvedic text written by Charaka around the first century BC, contains detailed instructions on eating and keeping healthy," writes Chitrita Banerji in Life and Food in Bengal (Penguin, 2005). Easy ways to circumvent India's torrid temperatures are prescribed in Ayurveda, which ascribes an innate potency or taseer to every food. Gauged by its impact on the body, the food may either be cooling or heat-inducing. Unlike in the West, where the concept of cold food largely encompasses salads and cold cuts, in India, food characterised as cold is considered as such, and thought as apt for the summer months, not only for their cooling effect on the body, but also because they are easy on the digestive system and effectual detoxifiers.
Nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer Kavita Devgan, says, "While Ayurveda goes deeper into the study of a particular food's natural properties, we follow a few guiding principles based on traditional wisdom to identify which food will be cooling to the body - it should be hydrating, easily digestible and detoxifying." The summer months suck electrolytes from our bodies and foods considered detoxifying, such as the summer specials watermelon, cucumber and berries, "not only help avoid diseases due to a toxic overload but also gets perspiration going, enabling our body to cool down on its own," she adds.
This concept of "cold" food has trickled down to most Indian kitchens. "I remember my grandmother, and later, my mother, often saying that certain foods heat up or cool the stomach. Things that cooled the stomach were not necessarily cool themselves - ice-cream and too much mango, we were told, in the summer could give you pet gorom (upset stomach)," says author Devapriya Roy. Her summer memories include a light fish stew or a patla maachher jhol - even the unforgiving heat doesn't deter a Bengali's obsession with fish - that was consumed with a dash of lime. "This was made with rohu in my house and was a summer staple. There was also this aamer jhol - a light, watery dish made with raw mangoes - that my mother recommended, and, as a child, I always ignored. But now, I yearn for that taste. There was also the classic combination of kalaier dal and alu posto, made especially during the summer months. Urad dal and posto (poppy seeds), are both cooling. The latter no doubt helped with an after-lunch nap," says Roy. Roy's mother, Manidipa, grew up eating the "classic combination" at her grandmothers' homes. "In the '60s, the time when I was growing up, there were no ACs and houses had one or two fans. I remember many summer lunches comprising these two dishes - kalaier dal with aloo posto. They were delicious and light and easy to digest," she says.
Indeed, most argue that making the most of seasonal produce is the best way to keep illnesses at bay. And summer's bounty ensures that there is much to pick from - watermelons, berries, plums, peaches, tomatoes and cucumber, are all high in water content and aid digestion. Taken with curd or flattened rice, it's a desi version of the Western fruit salad.
Summer is also the season for a variety of vegetables - pumpkin, ash gourd, snake gourd, ridged gourd are all known to be cooling. "Ayurvedic practitioners recommend patol (pointed gourd) and two varieties of gourds, karola (bitter gourd) and uchchhe (a variant of bitter gourd)," further writes Banerji. Easy on the digestive system, they are fibrous and protect against heat exhaustion. "We integrate these into our staples such as sambar, parippu curry & erissery.
Sambhaaram (spiced buttermilk with curry leaves & ginger) was a regular during summers at home. In fact, we always had a litre or two in the fridge as a refresher given how easy it is to prepare," says Thomas Fenn, co-owner, Mahabelly.
Regional cuisine in India has always been shaped not just by the topography of the land but also by its history and its climatic conditions. In most regions of India, summer coolers find a place on tables, as tackling dehydration in these months is paramount. In Kottayam, Kerala, where Fenn grew up, the heat was countered with tall glasses brimming with "sambhaaram, kulkil sharbath (lemon-based drink with tulsi seeds, a natural cooling ingredient) and nannari sharbath (made from the naruneedi root, also a natural coolant). Tender coconut water followed closely," he says.
Rickety thelas, barely upright under the oppressive sun, begin to dole out glasses of water, lemonade and the popular chaas or chhaachh on Delhi's streets. "Chhaachh, made by churning yoghurt, which is known to be cooling for the body, is primarily made two ways - with roasted cumin seeds and salt, and the other is plain. Most of the vendors in Delhi come from Haryana and as the summer gets worse, you begin to see more and more of them - from Old Delhi to outside government offices," says Anubhav Sapra of Delhi Food Walks.
In chef and food consultant Gunjan Goela's home in Delhi, sattu sherbet drinks took predominance. Though most popular in Bihar, sattu is made by powdering roasted gram flour, flavoured with black salt, mint leaves, roasted cumin powder and salt, and is consumed across the state. However, in Goela's mother's kitchen, a variation was concocted with pearl millet or bajra instead of black chickpea flour. "My mother is from Rajasthan where bajra is very popular. She would give us bajre ka sattu when it got extremely hot. It was soaked, strained and mixed with boora or khaand (unrefined sugar). Those were the days when refined sugar was not popular in Indian homes and Delhi's proximity to UP, which has several khaand factories, ensured its availability," she says. Rich in iron, manganese, magnesium and high on insoluble fibre, sattu is also stuffed into parathas or made into the Bihar favourite - litti.
In Rajasthan, where the mercury regularly soars up to 45 degrees celsius in the summer, sherbet of bael or Bengal quince is a household staple. The globose fruit with a hard rind yields a laxative pulp, sweet and aromatic. "We soak the pulp overnight in water and sieve it the next morning to make a cooler. Sometimes, we add sugar and cardamom to the drink but its sweet enough on its own too. It's something I have two-three glasses of in a day and it keeps the stomach in check," says Mita Kapur, founder and CEO, Siyahi, and author of the food memoir, F-Word (HarperCollins, 2013). Found widely across the country, the tree is considered sacred among Hindus, and lends itself to a variety of preparations including the bela pana from Odisha, prepared on the Odia new year. A mix of the fruit's pulp, milk, fresh cheese, sugar, cardamom and pepper, and sometimes a small amount of camphor, the ambrosia is diluted with water and offered to the gods before downing.
Aam panna, a raw mango cooler, is well-regarded for the stout defence it puts up against the intense Indian summer. Relished across India, raw mango which makes its way into chutneys and raitas, is not only heat-resistant but is also believed to have medicinal properties. But aam panna leads to a twist in the otherwise uncomplicated tale of cold foods: Why is raw mango a cooling agent when it is considered heat-inducing when ripe? "The nature and effect of the food change by the way it is treated," says Ayurveda expert BN Sinha.
Food changes its properties according to the way it is cooked and has differing effects on the body at different times of the day. Further, each body type as distinguished in Ayurveda - vata (wind), kapha (water) and pitta (fire) - will react differently to the food," he adds. "Almonds soaked overnight develop a thandi taseer or cooler properties but if you eat them dry, as we do in the winter, they are considered to have the opposite effect on the body. The technique of using the ingredient and the stage at which it is added to the dish need to be kept in mind," says Goela, adding, "My mother would order chaar magaz ke beej - essentially seeds of muskmelon, watermelon, cucumber and pumpkin and would grind them with almonds, khus khus (poppy seeds) and black pepper to make thandai, which is a summer cooler. The same ingredients, barring the seeds, were fried in ghee and given to us in winter for the opposite reason."
Basil seeds, Mahabelly A summer cooler made of basil seeds at Mahabelly, Saket. (Photo by Abhinav Saha)
This theory extends to spices as well. While cinnamon, mustard and coriander seeds are avoided in summer, cardamom, fennel and cumin seeds are infused into drinks and dishes. Another spice, that can be found in most well-stocked department stores, is the tart sumac - ground drupes of the rhus tree, used extensively in the Middle East. Irani cafe SodaBottleOpenerWala's chef, Anahita Dhondy, first encountered the spice while in Dubai a few years ago. The spice is prescribed to those suffering from fluid loss. "It is used extensively in Iranian food so we thought of introducing a salad of vegetables stir-fried in garlic and sumac with a dash of lemon juice," she says.
Rice too, like many other ingredients, needs to be treated with caution. Uncooked rice is considered to be heat-inducing, while cooked rice is endorsed as cold food. High in minerals and easily digestible, rice is fermented into a kanji or gruel and consumed in the southern and eastern regions of India. In West Bengal, and its neighbours, Assam and Odisha, panta bhaat or fermented rice congee - cooked rice soaked overnight and flavoured with mustard oil, green chillies and lemon juice - is a popular dish. The residual water acquires a slight piquantness and is often mixed with salt before drinking to prevent heat strokes and stomach ulcers.
It is argued by some that fermented foods such as yoghurt, pickles and cheese should be avoided during the summer months. "This is a myth. Summer kills our appetite so it is essential that we eat foods that have high nutritional value. Fermentation enables the production of good bacteria and enzymes which further help absorb the nutrients we get from the food that we eat," says Devgan. Kurush Dalal recalls how his mother, Mumbai-based caterer, food writer and nutritionist Dr Katy Dalal would serve "brinjal that was heated on a fire, peeled, mashed and cooked with onions, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander and mixed with curd."
Down south, curd rice gains in popularity in summer. Made across homes in the region, Tamil Nadu's thayir sadam becomes Karnataka's mosaranna and Andhra Pradesh's dadyodanam. A simple mix of rice and yoghurt, it acquires its zing from a temper of urad dal, cumin seeds, curry leaves, green chillies and asafoetida. Sometimes, ginger is added.
Milk's offerings lend themselves to varied culinary uses across regions. Even the humble coagulated malai is a coolant and an indispensable component of many Indian desserts - ras malai, kulfi, malai pedha, among others. In some homes, like in Goela's, "malai was the prasad offered to the gods. Once the puja was over, the malai would either be added to the food cooked that day, or, sometimes, she would add khaand or bananas to it and keep it aside for the family. She rarely got a chance to distribute it as my sisters and I would polish it off," she says, with a laugh.
-From Internet.

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Eid Mubarak


EID UL FITR is an important religious event celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The ...

Cricket »

History-making Afghanistan get baptism of fire in Test cricket


AFP, Bangalore :Afghanistan were handed a bruising introduction to Test cricket by India on Thursday as they capped their astonishing rise from war and refugee camps to joining the sport's elite.Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai called it a "very proud moment" as he strode onto the field at Bangalore's M. Chinnaswamy ...

Football »

Orlando City midfielder Josue Colman kicks the ball away from Montreal Impact defender Rod Fanni during the second half of an MLS soccer match on Wednesday in Montreal.


Football »

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center) and the former German national soccer team player and integration commissioner of the German soccer association, Cacau (right) attend a women soccer training session at a soccer club in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday.


International »

World can `sleep well` after North Korea summit: Trump


A jubilant-sounding President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that his "deal" with Kim Jong Un has ended the North Korean nuclear threat, as his top diplomat said he hoped to see "major disarmament" of the country by 2020.Despite the lack of detail, or binding terms in the joint statement agreed with ...

International »

UN rights office calls for int’l probe in Kashmir


AP, Geneva :The U.N. human rights chief called Thursday for an independent, international investigation into reports of rights violations in the disputed region of Kashmir, laying blame for civilian deaths and injuries on the actions of both India and Pakistan.In its first report on the region, the office of Zeid ...

City »

Air Chief adorned with Air Marshal rank badge


A ceremony marking the adorning of rank badge of new Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat was held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Thursday.In the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Mohammad Shafiul Huq and Chief of Naval Staff ...

Entertainment »

Sylvester Stallone under probe for sexual assault


Los Angeles prosecutors said on Wednesday that their sex crimes team was reviewing a case against Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone. Los Angeles District Attorney's office spokesman Greg Risling did not give details but said the case was presented by police in the California beach city of Santa Monica.Representatives for Stallone, ...

Editorial »

Pay the workers immediately, let them celebrate the Eid


NEWS media reported that nearly 40 percent of the garment factories, most of which are small and not members of any trade bodies like the BGMEA or the BKMEA, are yet to pay the workers' salaries or festival bonus although Eid-ul-Fitr is knocking at the door. Most of the 4.4 ...

International »

N Korean state media hails Kim-Trump summit success


Reuters, Seoul  :US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were splashed across North Korea's official party newspaper on Wednesday as state media hailed Tuesday's historic summit between the two men.The North's state media framed Tuesday's summit as a win for Pyongyang as it listed concessions made ...

Entertainment »

Secrets of Punam Priyam`s success


Entertainment Report :Punam Priyam is a popular media personality in Bangladesh. She is an anchor, producer and writer. In an interview with The New Nation, she has shared her life story and her views on different professional and personal issues. Details below:1. In our male dominated society men are still ...

Cricket »

Rahane says 'ruthless' India will not take Afghans lightly


AFP, Bangalore :Top-ranked India will be "ruthless" and not take Afghanistan lightly when they make their Test debut in Bangalore, skipper Ajinkya Rahane said Wednesday.It will be a historic moment for Asghar Stanikzai's team when they step out on Thursday for their maiden five-day outing against the world's number one ...

City »

Railway Minister Majibul Huq visited Kamalapur Railway Station in the city on Wednesday to witness the Eid journey of home-bound passengers.


Editorial »

Take urgent steps to prevent further landslides in hill region


AT least 11 people have been killed in separate incidents of landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Rangamati and Cox's Bazar. Among the deceased, 10 were killed in Naniarchar upazila of Rangamati and one in Maheshkhali upazila of Cox's Bazar, as per a local daily report.In Naniarchar, landslides in Boro ...

Entertainment »

Chitrangda Singh wears the producer's hat!


Recently, 'Soorma' trailer starring Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu in lead roles was released. While actress Chitrangda Singh who is been staying away from onscreen for a while has now overtaken the role of a producer for the movie, 'Soorma'. After Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra trying their hands as ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news