What’s Your Favorite Indian Summer Drink?

“Kuch thanda piyanga” which translates to “Would you like something cold to drink” is a common term that you would hear in an Indian household during the summer months. This summer has been alarmingly hot around the globe. Staying hydrated is now more critical than ever. 

Indian cuisine has some of the best summer drinks to keep you fresh and hydrated. From fresh seasonal fruit juices to spicy and cold drinks, Indian beverages are a crucial part of its culinary tapestry. Each region in India puts its own spin on these delectable drinks.  Below are our recommendations for Indian beverages that are guaranteed to quench your thirst and beat the heat:

1. Nimbo Pani also known as Shikanji

“Nimbo” translates to “lemon” in Hindi, and “pani” means “water.” This is essentially the Indian version of lemonade. This cost-effective drink is made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, water, and sugar.  Sometimes, other ingredients such as mint leaves, black salt, or a pinch of roasted cumin are added for flavor. This chilled drink is known for its tangy flavor.  Nimbu pani is a healthier alternative to fizzy drinks due to its natural ingredients.

2. Lassi

Lassi is a creamy and frothy yogurt-based traditional Punjabi cold drink. Many variations of lassi range from namkeen (salty) to meethi (sweet). Namkeen Lassi (salty lassi) is a blend of yogurt, salt, and cumin. It is usually consumed after a hot day.

Meethi Lassi (sweet lassi) is a blend of yogurt, milk, and sugar. Additionally, flavored lassi incorporates fruits and herbs. Check out some of our rich and luscious lassi recipes: Punjabi Lassi, Strawberry Lassi, Mango Lassi, and Pumpkin Lassi. 

3. Aam Panna

Aam Panna is a popular drink as it captures the essence of India’s favorite tropical fruit. Originating from Gujurat, this fruit-based drink is a sweet and tangy roasted Mango drink. Made by roasting raw green mango and extracting the pulp, mango pulp, ice, water, and fresh mint leaves are blended together to make this simple vibrant green elixir. It is the perfect balance of sweet and earthy flavor. 

4. Falsa Sherbet 

This delicious concoction is made from a rare and beloved seasonal fruit, Indian sherbet berry also known as falsa. Fresh Indian sherbet berries are hard to find in the United States. The good news is that this refreshing drink can be made with frozen Indian berries available at Patel Brothers.

To make this drink, blend frozen Indian sherbet berries with water and sugar. Strain the falsa mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds. Blend the mixture with black salt, black pepper, ice, and water, and garnish with fresh mint leaves. The final product is a scrumptious and cooling beverage that’s perfect for beating the heat. Falsa sherbet is known for its unique and refreshing taste, balancing sweet and tangy flavors.

5. Sugarcane Juice

Sugarcane juice, also known as ganna ka raas, is perhaps every Indian’s favorite street food drink. A glass of fresh sugarcane juice is a natural way to cool down during the blistering heat. Sugarcane juice is made by pressing sugarcane stalks through metal rollers.  

The freshly squeezed juice is served in a tall glass with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of ginger. Sugarcane juice is energizing and hydrating, enjoyed by all age groups. This all-time famous street drink is readily available from roadside vendors in India. It’s sweet, pleasing, and leaves you craving more. 

6. Falooda

Falooda is a treat both for the eyes and the tastebuds. It is one of the best Indian desserts that showcase a symphony of flavors and textures. Falooda is a visually appealing, multi-layered dessert drink. It combines sweet, creamy, chewy, and crunchy flavors. It’s a rich concoction of falooda sev, milk, ice cream, jelly, basil seeds, and syrup.

To prepare, heat milk and heavy whipping cream in a pot until it boils. Add sugar and stir until the milk thickens. Let the mixture cool. In a tall glass, pour syrup (rooh afza) at the bottom. Add basil seeds, falooda sev, jelly, and milk mixture. Top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with more syrup. Garnish with mixed chopped nuts. 

While enjoying falooda, you experience an indulgent symphony of flavors, ranging from the sweet flavor of rooh afza to the rich ice cream, gooey falooda sev, and the crunchy nuts on top.

7. Pyar Mohabbat Sharbat

Pyar Mohabbat Sharbat translates to “love drink”. Pyar Mohabbat Sharbat gained popularity from a streetside vendor who invented this drink to serve during Ramadan. This Delhi-style refreshing cold drink truly hits the spot after a long humid day.  

This super simple and easy drink is made by mixing chopped watermelon, cold milk, and rooh afza. In a tall glass, add ice, watermelon mixture, and basil seeds, and top it off with ice cream before serving. This rosy drink is ambrosial and delightful.

These drinks are common street food and household beverages during the summer months in India. Indian drinks showcase the diversity of Indian cuisine, with designated beverages for every season. The above Indian summer beverages will ensure that you stay hydrated all summer long.

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About the author:

Hira Shaikh is a die-hard Chicagoan residing in Texas. She is an avid foodie and travel enthusiast who also enjoys creating new recipes in the kitchen. Besides her corporate job, her sweet tooth and passion for food lure her to hunt down instagrammable restaurants and cafes to try and critique.

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