Are you looking for some delicious ways to cool off during the final days of summer? Look no further! South Asia ( the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the Maldives) are no strangers to hot weather. In fact, temperatures can reach as high as 117 °F in India!
Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite recipes to help keep you cool. These foods are not only delicious but have “cooling” properties to help you beat the heat.
Savory Option – Raita
Raita (pronounced rai-tuh) is a classic Indian yogurt-based sauce. It serves as a cooling condiment. I always encourage my friends who are new to spicy food to add it liberally to their plates. In addition, it can also help digestion and is filled with fiber.
As a child, I would visit my Nani (maternal grandmother) every summer. We would visit family, go to the park, and cook together. She and my Bapa (maternal grandfather) kept a large garden in their backyard which we used to create delicious family meals. One summer, we had an abundance of cucumbers. We used those, and some not-quite-ripe peaches, to make the most delicious raita.
There are many versions of this sauce, but my favorite comes from her kitchen. It’s thick and creamy with the right balance of sweet and savory. I love it as a dip with roti, crackers, or pita. It’s also great over grilled steak and barbecued chicken. Our recipe is below:
Nani’s Cucumber Peach Raita
Serves: 4, about ¼ cup serving
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minute
- 1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ cucumber, seeded and diced
- one not-quite-ripe peach, shredded
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Enjoy!
- Store it in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to one week.
Sweet Options – Kulfi & Falooda
Kulfi has been described as “Indian ice cream,” but that’s not totally accurate. It is not churned like American ice cream, so it’s creamier and very dense. Furthermore, kulfi melts much more slowly. There are lots of different flavors, including malai (sweet cream), gulkand (rose), elaichi (cardamom), pista (pistachio), and kesar (saffron), to name a few.
Falooda is a cold dessert made with noodles. The dish has its origins in Persia, and South Asian cuisine has adapted it with a variety of flavors. My favorite is a bright pink, rose-flavored version that uses Rooh Afza, a rose syrup, as the main flavor.
This drink is filled with fun flavors and textures. Therefore, every sip is a surprise! You can find ingredients at most South Asian grocers, but I’ve included substitution ingredients that you can find in most conventional grocery stores. Below is my quick and easy version:
Quick & Easy Falooda
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- ¼ cup strawberry gelatin, cut in ½ inch cubes
- ½ teaspoon tukmaria (basil seeds), soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained [You can use chia seeds as a substitute.]
- ¼ cup sev noodles, cooked and cooled [You can use vermicelli noodles as a substitute.]
- one cup 2% milk
- one cup vanilla ice cream
- 1 Tbsp. rose syrup
- 6 pistachios, finely chopped (optional for garnish)
- 2 cherries or 1 strawberry (optional for garnish)
- In a large glass, layer cubed strawberry gelatin, sev, and tukmaria.
- In a measuring cup, combine milk and rose syrup. Stir until frothy and uniform in color, about 2 minutes.
- Pour milk and rose syrup mixture into the large glass with the gelatin, sev, and tukmaria.
- Scoop ice cream into the glass.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios and cherries.
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Are you looking for more sweets and treats? My absolute favorite South Asian dessert cookbook is from Hetal Vasavada of Milk and Cardamom. I was gifted her gorgeous cookbook for Eid this year and have made so many delicious desserts, including her famous gulab jamun bundt cake!