From classic chai to cooling
lassis—milk- or water-thinned yogurt mixed with fruit or other flavorings—India has a long tradition of inventive, often richly spiced drinks.
This sweet riff on the Indian yogurt drinks known as lassis comes from Lingaraj Lassi, a popular refreshment stand in Bhubaneshwar in the east Indian state of Odisha. Its honeyed taste and caramel hue come from the sugars in the milk, which caramelize as the milk reduces, deepening and intensifying it in color and flavor.
In early spring, the first of the season’s unripe mangoes are eagerly anticipated in India. Green, unripe mangoes, with their tart flavor and rich pectins, are used to add tang to all sorts of dishes, from dals to desserts. Here, they are boiled until tender and blended with sweet jaggery, pungent black salt, asafoetida, and other spices in a thirst-quenching north Indian drink.
Throughout India, creamy, chilled lassis are the go-to beverage for cooling off during the warmer months. To make them, milk or water-thinned yogurt is blended with ingredients such as strawberries or ripe mangoes. In the South India city of Hyderabad, the most popular lassi is made with Rooh Afza, a rose-scented syrup made with botanicals and sugar.
Throughout India, creamy, chilled lassis are the go-to beverage for cooling off during the warmer months. To make them, milk or water-thinned yogurt is blended with ingredients such as Rooh Afza, a scarlet-colored syrup tasting of rose petals and pine, or—for this recipe—ripe mangoes, resulting in a refreshing drink that’s as thick as a milkshake.
This extravagantly spiced black chai tea, infused with ginger, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper, is a staple in Northeast India. It is often served on city streets by vendors, who hawk the hot steaming beverage from makeshift metal trays. See the recipe for Masala Chai » Ingalls Photography
In Lucknow, India, the hakims—local practitioners of Yunani medicine, derived from ancient Greece and focused on balancing the humors in the body—concoct cooling drinks to beat the heat. Called by the Persian name sharbat, the iced drinks often contain sweet and tart fruits and pungent and fiery spices. This refreshing cooler gets a carbonated lift from seltzer and a pleasantly saline tang from black salt and dried mango powder.
Throughout India, creamy, chilled lassis are the go-to beverage for cooling off during the warmer months. To make them, milk or water-thinned yogurt is blended with ingredients such as ripe mangoes or, as in this recipe, rose water and strawberries.
Get the recipe for Strawberry Lassi »
Cumin and salt add pungent flavor to this twist on a gin gimlet from chef Manish Mehrotra of New Delhi restaurant
Indian Accent, located in The Manor boutique hotel in New Delhi’s tony Friends Colony neighborhood.
This bracing vodka drink gets its resinous, pungent aroma from a good dose of curry leaves, which are both muddled in the drink and floated on top as a garnish.
A staple in restaurants throughout southern India, masala paal is a milk-based beverage that is sweetened with sugar and garnished with almonds and pistachios. We learned how to whip up a homemade version when cookbook author Raghavan Iyer stopped by our test kitchen and taught us this recipe.
Get the recipe for Steamed Milk with Pistachios and Almonds (Masala Paal) »
In northern India, where the thermostat can hit well into the 100s on a summer day, a whole host of drinks are sold on the streets and in cafés to beat the heat. Many of these include copious spice, which induces the perspiration that cools you down; this bubbly limeade gets a spicy kick from a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper. With its lip-smacking tang, it’s the perfect refresher to combat the summer heat. See the recipe for Nimbu Pani (Lime Juice with Seltzer, Black Pepper, and Sugar) » Ingalls Photography
See the Recipe Ingalls Photography
See the Recipe Ingalls Photography