Keep it light, keep it cool, keep it liquid, keep it life-giving and to live for as much as you can…that’s the secret to surviving hot summer. A few light-hearted tips to do it yourself: • Make a raita daily! Use home-made curd or kefir if you can…just add to dairy or any other curd a bowl of curd singly or in combo imagination: Grated cucumber/carrot/beetroot/onion/steamed broccoli or potatoes/as you wish. Season with any rock salt and freshly grated pepper or roasted cumin seed powder; or a good chaat masala. Stir in raisins, a tsp of honey or date syrup or real maple syrup if you like. You’ve got a great filling, cooling, probiotic all-Indian raita! Boondi raita is a small meal in itself but do soak the fryum boondi in hot water first before draining them and stirring into your bowl of curd (some folk don’t because they want to retain the crunch). Raita are economical to do but you play with them as exotically as you wish. • Make a kokum refresher daily! Buy fresh fruit kokum, quarter and add to jug of water to turn aromatically and rosily pink, chill and drink or drink on the rocks. To live and die for! If you buy kokum tival concentrate add a teaspoon to a glass of water, cool and serve. If you buy kokum agal, add a tsp to a glass of diluted coconut milk and chill, serve. Lightly made solkoddi using kokum peel in diluted coconut milk is spiked with sliced green chili (seeds removed, chopped green coriander, pinch of hing or thymol seeds (ajwain)…left to rest an hour, stirred and served as appetizer or post-meal digestive, leave space in the stomach for this! Drink at room temperature though and not chilled after a meal. It’s cheers to kokum all the way in various avatar. • Buttermilks & Lassi: Traditional summertime thirst-quenchers. Add water to curd, beat up, stir in bit salt and roasted jeeralu or chaat masala, serve chilled. Add lemon juice, drink cooled. Add lemon juice/ginger juice/orange juice/whatever choice of juice…drink cooled. There is buttermilk and buttermilk, thin, savoury and refreshing. Lassi is a lot of sweet affairs: Add water to curd, beat in honey, or grated jaggery, pinch of elaichi powder, beat and serve cool or on the rocks. Thin lassi is refreshing, thick lassi of full-cream milk curd is filling, a meal in itself. You may also add Roohafsa or whatever other sweetener pleases you to lassi. Lassi may come garnished with choora of badam-pista to look lovely and tempting! • Begin lunch with a small portion of salad: sliced cucumber/tomato/carrot/etc or coleslaw. Keep follow-up roti and rice meals light. Instead of roti and/or rice acquire a taste for thick veggie patties served on salad. I don’t mean the horrible puffed up pastry patties but the patties which come tucked in fat bread hamburgers… veggie patties are a medley of veggies based in potato puree and are very useful if you’re shunning flour or rice, two staples we live obsessively on so needlessly. Shallow-fry patties in a bit butter or olive oil before serving on salad. • Invest in soups galore, desi or phoren, thin or thick soups: Soups are ideal summertime dinner fare or make great fruit salads for dinner. Have your dinner two hours before you tuck in for the night! A bit of cocoa-rich chocolate if you wish, or a date, or a handful of caju. That’s it? It’s enough to sleep on and wake up cheerful. • Two things to avoid come summertime (or any time for that matter): Sugar and oils in all their deceptive garbs and fancy promotions. Will make you sluggish and both heart disease and cancer-friendly, not joking. Both are mega industrial ingredients we’re addicted to and hard to resist. Enjoy your summer and look out for summer specials coming up here!