Thursday, 5 June 2014

Summer Coolers - Bael ka Sharbat / Chaas / Vietnamese Iced Coffee

I am melting. I am wilting. I have simply stopped functioning. Yes, every summer I sound the same. No matter how much I try, the heat always seems to triumph. Every year, the summer seems worse than the last year and this year was no different. It's been brutal and unforgiving as ever!
The traditional Indian almanac has a period of nine days called 'nautapa' which are said to be the hottest nine days of the year. This period, I am told, ended on Monday and if you ask me, the heat only seems to have intensified since then. While everything around me seems overpowered by this searing white light of the Sun, my own mind and body have been overpowered by this lethargy where even the simplest task seems Herculean!! I know I sound melodramatic but believe me, none of it is exaggeration.
This explains my absence from the blog. The only time I am lured out of my air conditioned cocoon to venture towards the kitchen is to get myself another bottle of chilled water from the fridge.
Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. I do step into the kitchen but it is for the shortest time possible and only to make myself something that will help me deal with the weather. The appetite has dwindled and snacking between meals has given way to cool liquids that make me feel a wee bit better!
These three drinks that I share with you have been extremely popular in our kitchen, this summer. First up is a traditional Indian drink to beat the heat. 'Bael ka sharbat' is one of those traditional Indian food traditions that seem to have got lost in today's world.
Google informs me that 'Bael' is known as 'wood apple' in English. It might not be easily available and you might have to ask your local vegetable vendor to source it for you.  I was introduced to it by my mother who has a special fondness for it. It is a hard shelled fruit whose apricot-peachy coloured pulp inside is said to have miraculous cooling properties.
Next up is India's most popular yoghurt-based drink in the summers. We call it 'chaas' but it is also known as 'mattha'. Yoghurt is diluted with water and then flavoured with cumin powder, rock salt and in my case, with some ginger-green chilli paste. But, everyone in India like their chaas in their own unique way. It is up to your discretion how you flavour yours but the cumin powder, I believe, should not be missed!
And the last one is of my love for iced coffee in the summer. I was introduced to Vietnamese Iced Coffee last summer and I even did a panna cotta inspired by it. For those not in the know, it is finely ground roast coffee individually brewed with a small metal filter that drips the brewed coffee into a cup containing sweetened condensed milk and ice.
There is something about watching that filtered coffee drip, drop by drop on the ice and condensed milk that seems to speak to the lethargy that seems to have overtaken me. Once tried, this version of iced coffee will trump any other that you make at home.
As we countdown to the rains, how are you dealing with the heat??
Post note: And just as I get ready to publish this post, are those black clouds that I see on the horizon?? Could it be ...dare I hope? Fingers crossed!!

Summer Coolers - Bael ka Sharbat / Chaas / Vietnamese Iced Coffee


Serves 2

Ingredients (You can vary the quantities of the ingredients as per your taste)
  • 1 cup fresh curd/yoghurt (dahi), whisked
  • 2 cups chilled water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds powder (jeera)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger-green chilli (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black rock salt
  • salt, to taste

  • Combine the yoghurt, cumin seeds powder, ginger-green chilli paste, black salt and salt in a deep bowl and mix well
  • Add the water and whisk well.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve chilled and with ice, as per your liking.

Bael ka Sharbat

Ingredients (You can vary the quantities of the ingredients as per your taste)
  • 1 medium sized bael/ wood apple fruit
  • sugar, as per your taste
  • water

  • Break the Bael fruit & scrape the pulp out. Soak the fruit pulp in water. The water should be just enough to soak. Allow it to soak for 2 hours. After the soak, mash the pulp even further with your hands.
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve and keep aside.
  • To prepare the sharbat, take 2-3 tablespoon of the strained bael concentrate in a glass and then add a 2-3 teaspoons of sugar to it.
  • Dilute with cold water and you can adjust the sweetness according to your taste.
  • Serve chilled with ice.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Serves one


  • 2 tablespoons (scant) condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon dark roast ground coffee 
  • 1 cup water

  • Pour the condensed milk into a heat proof glass.
  • You can then proceed in two ways:
    • The simplest method is to steep coffee grounds in a heatproof container with 2/3 cup boiling water for 4 minutes. Pour through a coffee filter into a heatproof glass.
    • Or use a metal filter. Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove top screen from filter, add coffee, then screw on top screen. Place filter over a heatproof  glass or measuring cup.
    • Pour a splash of the hot water into filter; this will allow the coffee grounds to bloom. When coffee begins to drip through, add enough water to reach top of filter. Place lid on filter and let coffee drip on to the condensed milk for 4 minutes.
    • Note: You don't need a Vietnamese coffee filter to make this drink I made do with a South Indian coffee filter.

  • Stir to blend the coffee with the condensed milk and serve with lots of ice.


  1. OH dear, good to know Im not the only one who feels this way. You've echoed all my feelings. The lethargy, the loss of appetite, the need for cold liquids, the rising intensity of every summer as the years go on. I cant deal with it. The rains made a sneaky preview here and have disappeared all over again. Back to sweltering humid, stinky heat here now :(

    Chaas has become my drink of the season. Iv never had wood apple!! Sounds so intriguing. And of course the iced coffee, siiiigh - you know how I feel about that one..

    1. R, I thought of you when I made the iced coffee!! :) as for the heat, your yesterday's post articulated how we both feel pretty succinctly..

      and don't get me started on the infuriating, preview sprinkles we saw yesterday.. if you ask me.. its made things even worse!!

  2. Am trying the bael sharbat right now!!
    With some baels that almost broke my head this morning while I was standing under the tree.. thanks for keeping me busy through a super hot afternoon!!!

    1. Hehe..we got a few from our tree too!! But, its quite a tedious job..that hard shell, all that fibrous stuff inside..but if perfectly ripe..its very cooling!! First time trying it?


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