I'll Drink That!
April 23rd, 2011 - By Lari Robling
In our quest for healthier thirst quenchers, Sanjeev Kapoor offers some traditional Indian beverages from his book, How to Cook Indian: More than 500 recipes for the modern kitchen.
We all know we should cut down on sugary drink consumption, but what to replace it with?
In my search for healthier beverages, I started looking to other cultures and countries. I found Sanjeev Kapoor, he's bringing no-fuss Indian cookery to the States in his first American book, How to Cook Indian. Kapoor explains, "to us the only beverage we have is water. The rest everything is part of a meal. Most of the yogurt drinks were eaten with rice, now people drink it. There were some hot savory drinks with main meal now they have them as soups."
Cold yogurt can also be very cooling in the hotter climate, especially when mixed with fruits such as green mango. Kapoor also notes that there are special drinks to mark holidays. "There are a few milk drinks we do with nuts. There's a festival of holy colors just before summer sets in and that’s the drink you would have with nuts and poppy seeds very aromatic."
Historically, tea is identified with India. But don't think a simple brewed cuppa. Spices, herbs, and dairy add a whole new complexity. This Masala Chai may sound unusual, but it's so delicious it could be a stand-in for dessert. Kapoor says, "there's very special tea we would have mostly we would have tea with milk and it's actually overcooked tea so it is not light tea one kind of tea which is really unique is the tea we have is from Gujaratis in western India. And I married a Gujaratis girl that's when I first tasted it and found it very unique. It is flavored with lemon grass, tea, milk, sugar, lemon grass and you never imagine that going into tea with milk."
So, while we're used to soda machines at work and fast food drive throughs on every corner, Kapoor notes that’s not the case in India. There's just one company with packaged traditional drinks, but I wondered if that could threaten these homemade beverages. "No, I think because what they are selling is traditional yogurt drink what people would have at home so it is just the convenience do there are no preservatives it's low fat I think it is a good thing," says Kapoor.
Big Gulps or Super Size sodas aren't the norm in India. And the top selling burger in McDonald’s India, a country where half of their customers are vegetarian, is the McAllo Tikki, a patty of potatoes and peas flavored with Indian spices. I wouldn't mind ordering an McAllo Tikki with a chai, myself. Think of the slogan… two all POTATO patties, special sauce on a sesame seed bun!