9 Summer Staples That Smell of Nostalgia
The scorching months of summer is not too far away. For some Indian states, the spell runs for months. It is also vacation time for school and college students, which translates to idyllic days often spent at relatives’ homes. At least that is what we used to do while growing up. Any millennial listening?
Every time we visited our grandparents during the summer vacations, we would be fed day and night, starting from fruits to delectable dishes and lots of drinks that cooled down our system. This was a daily ritual, not that we were complaining!
And this is not something that is limited to Gujarati households like ours. Different parts of India have their ways or summer-specials that work like magic to combat the merciless heat wave. From east to west, north to south, here are some of our choicest summer special recipes that taste of nostalgia before anything else.
1. Neem Begun – Neem Begun or Neem leaves fried to a crisp with tiny pieces of brinjal is a staple in Bengali homes when the weather gets hot. Sometimes, the brinjal is replaced with diced potatoes as well. This not only helps cool the body down, but also offers immunity against various common diseases. Needless to say, it is also a natural detox.
2. Panta Bhaat/Pakhala Bhaata – What do you do to leftover rice in summers? The best bet would be to soak it overnight in water and let it ferment a bit in a vessel. In the morning, it becomes a great breakfast dish, slightly sour and is savoured with salt, raw onions, green chillies and fried vegetables or fish. The dish is well-known in the states of West Bengal and Odisha, and is popular among farmers to keep cool and work in the fields under the sun.
3. Sol Kadi – In the Konkan belt and regions of Maharashtra, you will find a drink made from cold coconut milk, Kokum fruit extract and some simple spices. More often than not, it is prepared by adding the Kokum extract to freshly pressed coconut milk and mixed with ground chilli, garlic and salt. The soothing drink is a common accompaniment to Maharashtrian seafood, which is known for tilt towards the spicier side. This drink balances out the spice.
4. Falooda – If you love textures and have a sweet tooth, nothing can beat the evergreen Falooda. It is a dessert that includes icecream or kulfi, vermicelli noodles, dry fruits, basil seeds and flavorful syrups such as rose or pista. The origin of this dish is rooted in the Middle-East and now, it is something that families relish after a lavish dinner. It is that quintessential summer memory that refuses to fade.
5. Variyali Nu Sharbat – When in Gujarat, try the Variyali nu Sharbat in summers. The traditional sweet drink is prepared by grinding soaked fennel seeds and black raisins, which is then mixed with glasses of fresh chaash (buttermilk). It tastes yummy and favorited by children who demand for it after returning home from the playground or school.
6. Mango and Onion Chutney – In the Northern regions such as Varanasi, the locals prepare a lip-smacking chutney using mint, raw onions and raw mangoes. It is considered to be a powerful remedy for heat strokes and is a part and parcel of Banarasi summer eats. It is so delicious that you can eat it with rotis alone!
7. Curd Rice – No summer food list is complete without the mention of the humble curd rice, which is cooked in every South Indian home. There are several different takes on the traditional recipe. You can have it with pickle or just like that for a cooling afternoon lunch. Curry leaves, dried chillis, mustard seeds are the basics used to temper the rice mixed in curd with salt. If you are too tired to cook, this seems like the perfect answer!
8. Neer Mor – A close relative of the spiced buttermilk is another South Indian preparation called Neer Mor. It is made by adding salt, asafetida, curry leaves, mustard seeds, coriander leaves, ginger and curry leaves to the normal buttermilk. Leave this in the fridge overnight and in the morning, you will get a frothy drink that goes with almost every meal.
9. Aam Panna – Call it Aam Panna, Baflo or Aam Poda, the green mango sherbet made from roasting the mangoes and using the pulp or boiling and using the pulp, mixed with sugar/jaggery, black salt and roasted cumin powder. This is something that one can have cups after cups and never get bored of!
Summers may come and go, but these staple food and drinks will always remain with us, passing down from one generation to another. So, it is time to bring these unique food items to your table for your family and relatives this season and take the much-needed trip down the memory lane.
Author Bio – Siddhi Panchal is a food blogger at CookingwithSiddhi and food aficionado who loves to cook. Her cooking skills cover a range of Indian and international cuisines. Her aim is to enable other food enthusiasts explore their love for food by helping them cook delectable dishes from India and around the world. Follow her on YouTube.