What are Bengaluru’s traditional foods and drinks of the season?
Traditional diets were designed around the seasonal availability of ingredients, but things have changed now, says Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical dietician, Apollo Hospitals.
“Most fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year. Earlier, summer foods were ‘Aam panna’, ‘Rai ka achar’, ‘Khus khus drink’, ‘Chandan ka sharbat,’ iced tea, fruit salads, faloodas, kokum juice and kulfis. These are best made at home. The packaged versions use a lot of sugar and salt as preservatives,” she says.
Look for foods with 80 to 90 per cent water and high electrolyte content, she advises.
Watermelon and other melons, cucumber, tender coconut water, buttermilk, mint and lime water are recommended.
“These foods are great for boosting immunity, battling heat stroke, dehydration, throat infections, constipation, indigestion, high blood pressure and dental caries,” she explains. “They are loaded with Vitamin K, C, A, B6 and B2, magnesium, folate and flavonoids.”
Dehydration and gut infections are common in summer, and you can deploy diet to counter them.
Dr Edwina Raj, senior dietician, Aster CMI Hospitals, says, “For staying hydrated, one needs to consume foods made of cucumbers, watermelon and citrus fruits. ‘Majjige huli’ made of white pumpkin and ‘avial,’ rich in vegetables and curd, are good. ‘Kosambari’ (salads) made from cucumber, pomegranate seeds, ‘kadale’ and carrots are a great side to a meal.”
Kokum water with sabja seeds is a cool drink for the season, she says. “It can be too boring just to keep drinking water to refresh oneself. Rasam and majjige are other options,” she says.
Chutneys made out of amla (rich in Vitamin C), onion (prebiotic which improves gut health) and mint (coolant) are favourites during the season.
It is best to have foods containing seasonal fruits and vegetables, says Ranjani Raman, dietitian and nutrition consultant, Nutrition Tattva.
“Ragi is a coolant, cooked in water and mixed with buttermilk and chillies is a great summer drink,” she says.
Sometimes fruits like mango and jackfruit can be heat-inducing in their natural form, which is why they are made into chutneys and jams, she says.
“It’s best to add them to one’s diet as they are rich in antioxidants and help fight viruses. They also have fibre in them. Yellow/orange-coloured fruits (musambis, oranges and lemons) are good for the season as they are rich in Vitamin C,” she says.
Tender coconut water scores big. “While the water by itself is rich in electrolyte and natural salts required for the season, the ‘malai’ or ‘ganji’ can be used to make ‘payasa’ (kheer) or even milkshakes,” says Ranjani.
While a healthy individual can have tender coconut water three or four times a week, people with kidney ailments should check with a doctor.
Thaatiningu (nongu) or ice apples is also a great summer fruit, she says.
“Most people cut down on protein during summer, as pulses, eggs and meat are heat-generating. Dals must be made thinner and pulses and eggs had with green leafy and water-based vegetables like gourds,” she advises.