With every passing day, the temperature is rising higher. The heat, as usual, will get unbearable in the coming months. The fallout of the Indian summer is a little hard to bear as it brings several stumbling blocks like extreme thirst, hot loo, and perspiration. Indian summers are famous for being intense and scorching. In such extreme situations, soft drinks are always one of the major source of quenching the thirst. But today we will also look closer at some traditional options that are occupying the space in the market to beat this scorching heat.
In an era when big brands of soft drinks are dominating all the way by introducing multiple traditional flavours – nimboo, jal jeera, maaza – to replace the age old drinks that are available in the market, it is quite interesting to witness that jal jeera and nimboo (lemonade) still top the list not only among general marketeers but also across all college campuses in Delhi.
“Food and beverage companies might excel in replicating flavours and selling them in attractive packing but it’s impossible for them to bring out the orginal taste of the fruit, be it Nimbooz or Mazaa. Every product severely falls short of the expectations as they are made using artificial colours and chemicals with huge amount of preservatives to meet the growing demand”, says Deepak Kapoor, student of Kirorimal College,Delhi University.
Lemonade and banta are the most favourite choice among college students. These drinks are highly popular around the Delhi University area because of their natural taste and freshness. These drinks are easily available and the taste can be adjusted by adding a pinch of masala in it, Kapoor adds.
Richa Ahuja, another student of the Delhi University, emphasised on the unmatchable quality of these drinks. She said, “branded drinks like Nimbooz are absolutely a no match to these traditional drinks. They might be made of purified water but its difficult to trust them as a lot of chemicals and preservative are included in it.” We’d rather go for our very own Kanche ki bottle, popularly known as banta, rather than going for such plastic drinks”.
Summers is approaching and it will be a common sight to find street vendors selling various traditional drinks all across the city. Jal jeera stalls, among others, can be spotted at almost every nook and corner in earthen pots (matka) which will help to keep it cool in such scorching sun. The unique flavour of this summer drink is going to be jal jeera powder where spices like roasted cumin, black peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom and black salt are grinded to a fine powder and added to a paste of fresh mint and coriander leaves. Fresh mint and coriander leaves impart a refreshing fragrance and flavour to the drink.
The rising temperature makes all human beings thirsty and people look for respite in all kind of chilled beverages. The average soft drink available in the markets hardly quenches the thirst and only gives relief for some time. Whereas, two to three glasses of wood-apple’s juice can only manage to keep the entire body system cool for whole day. It gives energy and keeps the human body system chill for much longer than any other drink can possibly do.
When it comes to traditional drinks one could think of many options to quench the thirst, however availability and quality of the product does remain a challenge for the customers to choose from. Nimbu paani/shikanji, jal jeera, lassi, banta (kanche ki bottle), ganne ka ras, and wood apple juice which is commonly known as bel ka ras are the famous traditional drinks that people drink to quench their thirst.
Sahil Gupta from Bahraich has been selling bel ka sharbat for the last three years at Nai Sarak in Old Delhi. He said, “people who are generally health conscious do not go with bottled drinks like Nimbooz. They prefer drinks like bel ka sharbat because of its great medicinal value. “Earlier there was very little demand for bel ka sharbat in the market, very few people knew about Bel and its benefits but gradually the awareness increased among people of every class”, adds Sahil.
Usmaan Hasan, from Muradabaad, has been putting his jal jeera stall for last 11 years at Fatehpuri gate in old Delhi. He says that people from every age group drink jal jeera because of its health benefits and its unique taste. Earlier the demand was comparatively low but as temperature is rising the demand is picking up, he adds.
Amidst the increasing popularity of these traditional drinks, the one thing that seems to be lost in the bush is nirmal jal or sheetal jal. It relates to the concept of storing water in an earthen pot (matka/gadha) deeply placed into sand stock. However, despite the rising temperature it is yet to be seen in Delhi’s markets and hot spots.
Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara, one of the nine historical gurudwaras in Delhi, has secured the top position in running the largest sheetal jal stall. It is situated at the centre of Old Delhi and has maximum footfall due to its religious significance and prime location.
Bel ka Sharbat
Bel fruit, in actuality, is a herb with the botanical name of Limonia acidissima. Bel fruit has other names like wood apple and elephant apple. The health benefits of Bel fruit include relief from constipation, indigestion, peptic ulcer, piles, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and dysentery. It is made of water, sugar and bel fruit by simple use of grinder machine. The health benefits that are attributed to wood apples are mainly due to their nutrients, vitamins and organic compounds, including their tannins, calcium, phosphorous, fiber, protein and iron.
It is the most basic and highly demanded drink in summers. Nimbu paani is a delicious thirst quencher made from freshly squeezed lemons, salt and sugar. It has a clean and refreshing flavour. It also contains Vitamin C. Nimbu paani, which is nothing but lemonade or lemon squash, is commonly available at all the places, particularly in the summer season.
Another popular drink in summers, jal jeera can not only be made at home but is also served in bottles by a number of soft drink brands. Black pepper, ginger, cumin, black salt, mint and the flavoring powder are the ingredients of this drink. Jal jeera is very effective in digestion and it protects us from the scorching heat. It is a refreshing, traditional Indian summer drink with
health benefits. It not only quenches our thirst but also increases our appetite and
aids in digestion.
Sugarcane Juice (Ganne Ka Ras)
It is another most trusted and famous drink in summers. It can be seen on moving engine machines roaming around the streets and public places with sugarcane. Sugarcane juice contains no simple sugars; hence, it is enjoyed by diabetics without any compromise with the health. Regular consumption of sugarcane juice not only results in stable glucose levels but also helps in losing weight. Sugarcane juice contains sugar in raw form which is good for health. It contains essential nutrients and minerals, unlike the refined sugar which is devoid of any nutrients and minerals, and can cause health problems in sugar-sensitive people. On the contrary, cane juice is free from such problems.
Banta is highly popular among the college crowd. The popular street drink is also called kancha soda because of the marble or kancha that is used to seal the bottle. To open it, one has to push the kancha down and if one wants to get it differently, just add some black salt or pani puri masala. This is how banta gets ready to be served.
The most popular and traditional Yogurt based drink, lassi, originates in the Punjab region and another cooling and refreshing drink to have in summers. Mango lassi, sweet lassi and bhang lassi are few popular variation to the normal lassi. Though it is considered to be very rich item to quench the thirst its price goes to well beyond the price of other average drinks.