Summer food must be light, flavourful and cooling and as a seasoned home cook or chef will tell you, it must always be easy on the eye. Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson’s best-selling book Nigella Summer offers calorific recipes like the Banana And Butterscotch Upside-Down Tart and Arabian Pancakes with Orange Flower Syrup.
But with home cooks becoming increasingly aware of healthier alternatives to conventional favourites, the emphasis today is less on refined ingredients, sodium and sugar additives and more on organic produce and fresh combinations of flavours. Basic green salads tossed with light vinaigrette, chilled chunks of watermelon, butter milk with different variations (green chillies, black pepper, cut cucumber, roasted and powdered whole spices et al) can lift the spirits and cool the palate.
Ice cream can easily be replaced with shaved ice drenched in fresh fruit juice. Chilled soups can be made with a few fresh vegetables of your choice blended in a food processor with sprigs of mint, basil, lime juice and sea salt.
Aam Panna, a cooling drink is an old favourite and can be put together easily .
1 raw mango
1 small piece of grated ginger
1/ 3 cup of sugar or powdered jaggery to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp of roasted and ground cumin
3 cups of water
Salt to taste (black salt can be used but its taste is not appealing to everyone)
Black pepper powder and chaat masala (optional)
You can roast lightly or briefly pressure cook the mangoes and then skin and pulp them in a grinder with salt, black pepper, ginger and sugar/jaggery. Boil the pulp on gentle heat, add lemon juice and powdered cumin. Now add gradually the cups of water till you like the consistency. Ready to serve topped with crushed ice. —