Many parts of the world, including the UAE, are experiencing a heatwave.
While some people still have the luxury of working from home, others need to step out and brave the heat, which can often cause dizziness and dehydration if preventative measures are not taken.
Fortunately, nature has blessed us with certain plants and herbs that are particularly helpful when the mercury level rises. They can help bring down our body temperatures and keep us cool, hydrated and healthy, especially when consumed in beverage form.
Here are four to try, with each recipe making for a single serving.
Kokum, or garcinia indica, helps to control body heat and acidity levels, known as pitta. Because of its cooling properties, this plant from the mangosteen family is ideal to consume during summer. It also improves digestion, and can be consumed as a juice or used to season curries.
Recipe: sol kadhi (kokum coolant)
6-8 pieces dried kokum, unsalted
Pink salt, to taste
Pinch of hing (asafoetida)
½ tsp green chilies, crushed (optional)
3-4 curry leaves
1 cup light coconut milk
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp grated ginger
½ tsp crushed garlic (optional)
Coconut oil, for tempering
Flax seeds and coriander, to garnish
Soak the kokum in warm water for a few minutes, then extract the kokum water using a sieve
Transfer the kokum water in a bowl, add the coconut milk and salt, and mix well.
Add the crushed chilies, ginger and garlic in a strainer, then dip it in the kokum water to extract their flavours.
Heat some coconut oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and curry leaves, then mix in the kokum mixture.
Garnish with freshly powdered flax seeds and coriander.
Serve warm or cold.
Pro tip: Avoid reheating this beverage. Refrigerate to store, then remove one hour prior to consumption.
I call sattu the great Indian protein shake. It involves roasting Bengal gram or chana dal flour and mixing it with some cumin powder or even coriander.
This superfood has existed in India for decades. A cooling agent that naturally brings down your body temperature, sattu is also a pure protein source and is rich in fibre, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium.
A combination of buttermilk and sattu works well as a summer drink and one glass can be consumed on a daily basis.
Recipe: spiced sattu buttermilk
2 tbsp sattu powder
3 tbsp fresh A2 organic yoghurt
2 cups water
Pinch of black pepper
¼ tsp roasted cumin powder
Pink salt, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
Coriander and mint leaves, ginger, mustard seeds, curry leaves, for garnish
Whisk the yoghurt until smooth, then add the rest of the ingredients in (excluding the ones suggest for garnishing).
Dilute with water, adding more if you prefer your buttermilk thin, stirring well all along.
Garnish with finely chopped coriander and mint leaves; half a spoon of freshly grated ginger; or mustard seeds and curry leaves tempered in oil.
Pro tip: You can make a simple version of this drink with just cumin powder and pink salt added to curd and water.
Cumin seeds are natural antioxidants, which boost the digestion process and relieve intestinal gas, acidity and bloating.
When mixed with water (jal), the resultant beverage, known in India as jaljeera, is extremely cooling and refreshing. It is traditionally made in a matka (mud clay pot), which makes this concoction more alkaline.
Jaljeera helps in aiding digestion and reduces the incidence of bloating and wind.
3-4 cups of water
2½ tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp fennel seed (saunf)
2 tsp lime juice
½ tbsp dry ginger powder or grated fresh ginger
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
½ tsp black pepper
Pinch of hing (asafoetida)
Black salt or rock salt, as required
1 tbsp finely chopped raw mango, for garnish
Organic jaggery or honey (optional)
Combine all the ingredients (except the water) in a processor. Grind until all blend together, then put through a strainer.
Add water or as required, between 3 and 4 cups.
Serve chilled in an earthen pot, garnished with finely chopped raw mango, lime wedges and more mint leaves.
To sweeten, add organic raw honey or jaggery.
Pro tip: Adding mint in jaljeera can help cool the stomach, and is also great for keeping you hydrated.
Raw mango (kairi)
Unripe mangoes are a source of vitamins B and C as well as bioactive polyphenols that help fight oxidative stress. The fruit is also rich in flavonoids such as mangiferin and quercetin, which exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Mangoes have a bad rap of warming those who eat them, but raw mango — if consumed in the right way — can actually bring down body temperatures.
One way to consume raw mango, besides in a crunchy Thai salad, is in an Indian summer favourite called aam panna.
Recipe: aam panna (raw mango drink)
½ cup raw mango or green mango
1 tbsp organic jaggery powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper powder
5 to 6 mint leaves, crushed
¼ tsp roasted cumin seeds powder
1 cup water
Add the mango, jaggery powder and a cup of water to a pressure cooker. Cook for four to five whistles.
Let the steam out and cool down the cooked mangoes completely.
Peel them and extract the soft pulp.
Place the pulp in a jar, stir in some salt, black pepper powder and roasted cumin seeds powder, and mix well.
Add the crushed mint leaves or a mint leaf paste.
To serve, add two tablespoons of this concentrate to water.
Pro tip: Don’t skimp on the cumin powder and black pepper, as these help ease digestion.