OMG the Food: Lassi, Thandai and other Drinks

Good morning everyone,

Indian is freakin’ hot in the summer.  As I draft this in late April, my mother-in-law is in 39C temperatures in Bathinda.  She’s trying to stay cool by staying inside under the air conditioner.  I would have melted long before the thermometer got above 32C.  Herpredicament inspired today’s post.  Cooling drinks!

We’ll start with Savoury Lassi, then we’ll learn a popular drink in the Sandhu household – Thandai and finally, a drink that I’ve not tried until today – Jeera Pani.  All are summer drinks meant to help deal with the heat.

Savoury Lassi

I make my lassi with ice in the blender while home in Canada.  In India, this is made with cool, filtered water.

Ingredients
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups curd (yogourt – recipe here)
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 1/2 cups ice cubes

Method
Toast the cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds become aromatic and begin to change to a deep greyish brown.  Allow the seeds to cool and grind them in a mortar and pestle until powdery.

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Makes 4 glasses of lassi.

 

Thandai

I had this drink in the Kashmir from a little stall.  It’s also a favourite thing in the Brar household in summers.  I hope I got it right, I had to borrow a bit from several recipes that were available, and a little advice from mama ji.

Ingredients
2 tbsp unsalted pistachios, shelled and skins removed
Handful of almonds
Handful of cashews
5 green cardamom pods, crushed and skins removed
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 black peppercorns
8 cups of whole milk
1 thumb sized piece jaggery, or to taste (or use about 1/4 cup of cane sugar)
2 tbsp rose water

Method

Grind together the pistachios, almonds, cashews, cardomom seed, nutmeg, fennel and peppercorn in a spice grinder until powdered.  Transfer to a blender and pulse in about 1/2 cup of the milk until it forms a paste.  Break up teh jaggery and add it to the blender.  Add about 2 cups of the milk and the rose extract and blend until smooth.  Add this to a jug with the remaining milk.

Jeera Pani

Jeera Pani means cumin water.  This drink has a strong tamarind flavour and can be sweetened (if you desire) with a little cane sugar or jaggery.  You could just chop up the cilantro with the stems but I find this adds a bitter taste.

Ingredients
1 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 green chili, chopped finely
1/2″ ginger, peeled and minced
6 tbsp tamarind paste
5 – 6 cups water
2 1/2 tsp kala namak (black salt, available in Indian markets)
2 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted in a pan until the become fragrant, then ground

Method
In a blender, blend together the mint, cilantro, chile, ginger and tamarind.  Add as little water as possible to ensure the mixture is well blended.  Transfer the mixture to your serving pitcher.  Add 2 cups of the water, the kala namak and cumin and stir to mix well.  Add the remaining water and stir again to mix well.  Refrigerate until cold.  Stir again before you serve the drink.  Pour into glasses and serve cold.

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