Once the heat of Summer and the warmth of Autumn die away we stop making fruit juices so often and turn to miso soups, and teas and infusions to warm our days and provide relaxing interludes. Here are some more, mainly infusions, to spark up your cold wet winter weather and get rid of the rainy day blues.
There is a thing about some of the soups of South India – they can be like hot drinks rather than the way we might think of soups. We treat them as hearty, warming dishes to be eaten by the bowlful. Contrast this with flavoursome but not highly spiced hot beverages. There is nothing like them anywhere else – they are neither like the tangy and highly spiced rasam, nor like the North Indian shorba. Some of the soups take influence from other parts of Asia, some from the English and French lighter soups and some from the soups of Portugal. These type of Indian soups are not common, but are also not rare.
I like to call it a “shot” of soup, often no more than a quarter of a cup. And it is often served after the meal, in a way that we might serve coffee. Relaxing over a shot of soup. What a delightful way to include more vegetables in our lives!
This recipe is a quick and easy tomato soup, in the Indian style. A hot beverage if you like. And totally delicious. While sugar is added to give the sweet-sour taste, it can be omitted and we often leave it out.
Also note that more Western style soups are becoming more and more popular across India as people turn their hand to cooking other cuisines.
This is such a delightful accompaniment to Fried Upma.
Are you weary? Stressed? In need of some relaxation? I have a rasayana for you – saffron in milk with honey and ghee. Amazingly, this drink relaxes and destresses. You feel your breath ease and deepen and worries vanish.
The art and science of rasayana is about lengthening the lifespan, and individual rasayana recipes can be considered as tonics or something that enhances well being. Rasayanas not only include food but behaviours and practices.
This is a very precious recipe.
There are several recipes for Tulasyadi Phanta. This is one that is not so common – perhaps more recent as it includes lemongrass. It is a infusion that is good for colds and fevers, and also if you are exhausted from work or illness, and need to feel comforted and rested.
The infusion is made with Tulsi, the Indian holy basil, seeped with lemongrass, cloves and cinnamon. It really is relaxing – as you sip it in the afternoon you feel your body beginning to relax and your breath deepen. It is a gorgeous way to wind down.
The word chai originated from the Hindustani word chai which was derived from the Chinese word for tea, known as cha. Chai just means tea in India. Outside of India it is often known as masala chai to indicate the inclusion of spices.
The making of Chai uses techniques that go against all of the rules of British-influenced methods of brewing tea. It is brewed in milk rather than seeped in water. The tea that goes into making chai is simmered for some time, rather than seeped for under a minute or two. It is sweetened as a matter of course. And of course, chai includes spices (although it can be made without spices). Chai tastes nothing like regular tea with milk.
There is a distinct method or ritual for making chai, and one that I will share with you today. Tarak chai (also spelt kadak, karak and tadak) is a strong tea, and describes the taste that you get when tea is simmered rather than seeped, and simmered for a number of minutes.
Chai can be infused in water (milk is added later), directly into simmering milk, or in a combination of milk and water. Each household makes chai slightly differently.
It is loquat season as I write, and luckily our tree is laden down with fruit. Funny little things the fruit needs to be used straight off the tree, otherwise they bruise easily and can turn brown.
We make lassi with locquats, and they are delicious. Ice cold on a hot day, there is nothing better.
By the way, Loquats can also be spelt Locquats. Go figure.
We have a range of sweet, fruit and salt lassi recipes for you to browse. Explore all of our Yoghurt recipes too. The Drinks recipes are here. Explore our Indian recipes and our Indian Essentials. Or be inspired by our Late Spring recipes.
There is a tradition in various parts of the world to add salt and some fat or oil to tea and/or coffee – from Ayurveda to Nepal to Mongolia and other parts of the world. We make an easy version of this using our common domestic coffee making equipment.
In the depths of Winter we turn to hot drinks to warm the body. But there are herbs and spices that will also warm us from the inside. Rosemary is one, ginger another, and black pepper too. This drink uses ginger, cardamom and pepper and will tingle and warm your body in the coldest of weathers. It is consumed either warm or at room temperature, so is a no-fuss recipe.
In India, ginger is well known as a cure for colds and sore throats. Dry ginger powder mixed with water is said to work wonders to relieve stiff joints. You can see that this drink is essential during Winter.
The dry ginger powder is essential to this drink – for maximum effect, don’t substitute with ginger root. The ginger, cardamom and pepper do not dissolve completely. Do as I do and stir while drinking, or allow it to sit for 5 or so minutes, then strain.
Chai made with a range of spices and liquorice root is incredibly good. It is also very detoxifying, so it is a healthy AND flavoursome tonic for an afternoon relaxing hot drink. Or morning. Or evening.
This recipe is very much like our first chai – Yogi Chai – all those years ago. Spices are roasted to enhance their flavours, and then simmered. Tea can be added or not – your choice. And it can be sweetened or not. Milk can be added or not. So there is a range of choices and variation.
While it is usually consumed piping hot, it is also wonderful chilled and sipped on hot days and in those heatwaves so common in the area where I reside.
Traditionally India has not had a strong culture of alcoholic drinks, except for a few pockets where naturally fermenting products meant some developed a taste for it (and a reputation, no doubt).
Consequently India has such a rich variety of non-alcoholic drinks, a seemingly infinite variety of all types of drinks – hot, cold, juices, milk based, fruit based, yoghurt based, infusions, coffees, chais, with seeds, without seeds, … It is fascinating to those of us who grew up in countries where choices are limited to water, coffee, tea, wine and beer. Perhaps some soft drink and orange juice. Maybe apple juice. But not much beyond that.
Additionally, the weather is hot in India, rivalling our own temperatures of 40C – 45C in Summer, with the additional humidity in India. Right before the monsoon is when the heat is the most unbearable–daily extreme temperatures and 100% humidity. There is no choice but to adapt, and until more recently, electricity was not available everywhere for aircon. So shady houses and verandahs can be common, people stay out of the heat in the mid day, roof tops are used at night for cooler breezes, and refreshing drinks are made in the afternoons.
Also, many drinks contain salt. It makes the drinks very tasty, but there is also a health reason for this – in heat we lose salt from our bodies through our perspiration. So rehydrating drinks in the afternoon provide water, salt and also sugar for energy in the heat. How sensible!
Already we have posted (and made) a range of Indian drinks, especially Lassi (great for Summer mornings!) and Chai (excellent afternoon and evening cold weather cuppas), and a few cold drinks (Summer sipping). Today is definitely a hot weather drink – Nimbu Sherbet, Indian Lemonade (or Limeade).