Humans are mostly water and are also very creative about how they replenish the water lost during the day. These traditional drinks bring with them a legacy of human ingenuity to that task and help preserve both that tradition and the drinker’s health at once
Living in a hot country made it necessary for India's residents to create beverages that taste good while beating the heat. Over many centuries, Indians have used varieties of plants and herbs to add exotic flavors or just consumed them directly. If you're thirsty for some, then this guide will introduce you to 10 of them that are favored over soft drinks.
Tender Coconut Water
This drink is ubiquitous all over the country, particularly in its vast coastal and peninsular regions. It is available both raw on the roadsides and packaged in supermarkets. The solid structure of the coconut keeps the water inside cool in the heat while also keeping its many nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, intact. Its sweet taste makes it an all-season drink for all ages.
It is prepared by mixing water with curd, usually in a 3 or 4-part water-to-1-part curd ratio. Those who prefer it sweet can add a teaspoon of sugar, while those who prefer it spicy can add a spice mixture. It is loaded with multiple vitamins and minerals that improve your health. It's best consumed chilled and can also be taken in place of coffee or tea.
Foodies can't resist this thick liquid made from curd and water, with hints of rosewater and cardamom. It can be had in sweet or spicy form and comes in a whole host of flavors like mango, chocolate, etc. It's full of the goodness of curds, like vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. But it has a downside with the presence of fat, so it needs to be consumed in moderation.
Lemon juice is easy to make and healthy to consume. Just add some lemon extract to water and mix in sugar or salt to taste, and you’re done. Usually, you can also find cardamom added for extra taste. The lemon provides plenty of Vitamin C, along with other vital nutrients. It’s best consumed cold.
It is one of India’s evergreen drinks that is found in the cities and the rural areas, as the latter is where sugarcane and its products are made. It may not be for diabetics, but others can relish its sweet taste naturally or with additions like lime, salt, ginger, mint, and others. It is the freshest juice you can have since sugarcane gets crushed right in front of you to extract its juice. And it’s cheaper than other juices, too. It is a healthy drink for your liver.
Club soda may be associated with alcoholic drinks, but it has many other uses. In India, it takes the form of masala soda, where club soda is mixed with a combination of spices to create a bubbly, spicy drink. It refreshes you despite being spicy since the spices and salt are only used in moderation. A dash of lime may also be added to create lime soda. You can have a sweet version of this too, if you don’t mind some sugar. At times, it is taken as a tonic for indigestion.
Jal Jeera, a drink unique to India, can be considered an offshoot of the famous Indian snack (chaat), Pani Puri. More specifically, it’s a version of the flavored water used to add flavor to the snack. The drink is made by mixing water with cumin powder, a dose of lemon extract, and a plethora of spices. It has a tangy, sweet, and mildly spicy taste and is great for quenching thirst and clearing up trapped gas in the digestive tract.
This is a specialty of the south Indian city of Madurai and is a milkshake of sorts. Sarsaparilla root syrup is blended with milk, sugar, almond gum, and ice cream to create this exotic beverage that chills you no matter the heat you’ve endured. Almonds, milk, and root syrup contain many good nutrients that can’t be found in soft drinks, so it’s a win-win.
An alcoholic beverage made by the Royals of Rajasthan state, Kesar Kasturi, will have you licking your lips for more. It contains about 10–12 herbs, spices, and roots, with the main ingredient being kesar or saffron. The alcohol content is light enough to not make it a heavy drink while still not leaving you disappointed. It’s best served chilled and consumed after dinner or lunch to set the mood right in the hot Rajasthani desert sun or elsewhere.
Humans are mostly water and are also very creative about how they replenish the water lost during the day. These traditional drinks bring with them a legacy of human ingenuity to that task and help preserve both that tradition and the drinker’s health at once.