A refreshing drink on a hot day often seems to revolve around beer (for me anyway) so I decided to do a bit of research into alternatives that are non-alcoholic and suitable for everyone.
Here’s the ones I liked the sound of, some will be familiar and others maybe not.
Surely a drink that is familiar to everyone who has ever been to an Indian restaurant, the Lassi is a fruit based Indian style of smoothie. They are very easy to make so we recommend giving them a try at home because that way you can cut down on the sugar levels. Pre-prepared ones you can buy off-the-shelf tend to have lots of extra sugar added.
Mango Lassi is perhaps the most popular and can be made by:
- Chopping up a fresh mango to remove as much fruit as possible.
- Take roughly the same volume of non fat Greek or fresh yoghurt and add this to a blender with the mango.
- Add 1/2 cup of water or milk.
- Flavour with a little cinnamon or spice of your choice – this bit is optional and you can equally leave it out.
- Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar if you want it sweet but I think mango is sweet enough so I don’t think you need any sugar.
- Blend the mixture until it is smooth.
Chill in the fridge or serve over ice if it is really hot and you can also add a few strands of saffron and some chopped pistachio nuts on top if you want to make it look really good when you serve it.
All flavors of Lassi are very good with spicy food but they can be very filling so don’t drink a pint all at once!
I have also taken a look through Meera Sodha’s recipe book and she has suggested some alternative flavors you could try and these sound delicious:
- Strawberry and cardamom
- Dates and almond milk
- Peaches and coconut milk
- Avocado, honey and cinnamon
Now I don’t know about you but they all sound fantastic. All are made by adding everything to a blender and giving them a whiz so you can experiment with quantities but I find you are aiming for roughly half fruit to yoghurt and milk / water most of the time, gets the right consistency and then adding the other ingredients to taste. So just a little spice and not much sugar or honey.
The great thing is you can add more of each ingredient to get the recipe just the way you like it.
Alongside Mango, Lassi the plain version is also extremely widely served in Pakistan and India. This is even easier to make as it basically yoghurt blended with milk and ice. Sugar is added to taste and you can use any type you like from brown sugar to honey or plain white sugar. Just don’t go crazy, lots of sugar is bad for you so try and add it sparingly.
So when travelling in Turkey I used to love a glass of Ayran and have since started making this at home myself. The reason I mention it here is that is is basically a plain lassi type drink but with salt added instead of sugar and more like 1 part yoghurt to 2 parts water / ice to make it more watery than a lassi.
Again be careful when adding the salt – around 1 teaspoon a day, in all foods, is the healthy limit so if you’re making a litre, 1 teaspoon will be more than enough and you should be storing it in the fridge and drinking it over several days.
Try reducing the salt content and adding other flavours such as mint and pepper if you want to experiment.
This is a drink that is much less familiar to most of us in the UK and certainly one I have not yet tried. It is a blend of spices and water, with Jal meaning water and Jeera meaning cumin in Hindi. A variety of other ingedients such as mint, amchoor powder, pepper and salt are added and it is often served over ice.
You can also buy pre-prepared Jal Jeera mixes to make life a little easier.
Some claim health benefits for the drink, typically that it is good for the digestion but don’t you find every country seems to have a drink that is good for the digestion but none of them ever seem to be the same? In Germany it’s some highly spiced schnapps normally.
So I think I will ignore the potential health benefits and try it based on the fact that is sounds interesting and I love trying weird concoctions of spices added to drinks.
Just like the Lassi recipes mentioned above Sharbat comes in a wide variety of flavours and is also related to the word Sherbert. It is popular across a wide range of countries and is often drunk during Ramadan.
It is perhaps the simplest of drinks to make yourself as it is basically sweetened water with your flavour of choice added. Think orange squash made with a cordial and you will get the picture.
So the more complex recipes I have seen involve adding sugar to water and boiling them together to make a syrup. This is in ratios that vary around 4 to 1 or 5 to 1, water to sugar. You then let your syrup cool and blend it when cold with the juice of your fruit of choice. This could be pomegranate, mint or melon for example.
I worry about the huge amount of sugar you will be drinking, so moderation it the key.
There are many recipes online so take a look if you like a very sweet drink.
Of course if you want the simplest of all, buy a fresh coconut, make a hole in the top and stick in your straw (not plastic please) and away you go. Fresh coconut juice has always been a favourite of mine.
Let us know of any drinks recipes you recommend in the comments below and we will be happy to share them.