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The cool guide to eating

A chilled drink is not always the answer to searing heat. Here are some foods that can help you keep cool
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First Published: Mon, Jun 03 2013. 08 47 PM IST
Vazha Pindi Thoran. Photogrpahs by Aniruddha Chowdhury & Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Vazha Pindi Thoran. Photogrpahs by Aniruddha Chowdhury & Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Tempted to down another chilled drink to beat the heat?
“Don’t,” says Deepika Aggarwal, senior dietitian, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi. According to her, drinking or eating something just because it’s cold does not necessarily cool you down.
“In fact ice cream or very cold drinks don’t help at all,” she says. “When we eat foods that are at a much lower temperature than our body temperature, there is a cooling effect initially, but after 15-20 minutes the opposite happens as the body responds to the heat loss by increasing blood flow to the cool region, and brings the temperature back to normal.”
There is a way out of this conundrum: Eat foods that are intrinsically and gently cooling in a way that does not make your body react by increasing blood flow.
“After all, the traditional Indian diet has always been based on eating according to season,” Aggarwal says.
Bangalore-based consultant nutritionist Jyothi Setlur lists the ways you can fix your body’s thermostat the natural way: “Stick to water-packed foods—fruits and vegetables like watermelon, tomato and celery to keep dehydration away, since dehydration brings up body temperature. Spicy foods like chillies and black pepper make you sweat and you get evaporative cooling.”
Aggarwal also lists jau (pearl barley), ragi (finger millet) and gulkand (a rose- petal preserve) as foods that help cool you from inside and prevent fatigue, acne and other conditions related to excess heat. “Aloe vera reduces internal heat and can strongly promote bowel movement, so it helps keep constipation (a common problem during summer due to dehydration) at bay,” she says.
We spoke to chefs and food bloggers for recipes featuring ingredients with cooling properties.
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Pearl Barley Salad
Pearl barley: Apart from its cooling properties, this wholegrain helps tackle urinary tract infections, is full of fibre and minerals, and provides healthy cholesterol. Adding mint makes this dish seriously refreshing.
Serves 2
2 cups pearl barley (‘jau’)
Salt to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
K cup pitted olives
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, deseeded, pith removed, and diced
1 shallot, minced
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine barley, 3 cups water and a pinch of salt in a pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer till the barley becomes tender (about 45 minutes). Drain in a colander and let it cool. Combine tomatoes, olives, mint, bell pepper and shallots in a bowl. Add the cooled barley. Whisk together the red wine vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
—Vimal Vikraman, executive chef, Grand Mercure, Bangalore.
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Banana Gulkand Milkshake
Gulkand: This sweet preserve made of rose petals is an Ayurvedic staple for cooling the body in summer.
In a blender, place 1 banana, 1 tbsp ‘gulkand’, 1 tsp sugar and 2 cups milk and blend to a smooth purée. Top with ice cubes and serve cold.
Fruit, Nut and Gulkand Parfait
Serves 2
1 cup hung curd
K cup apple, grated
1 small ripe banana, sliced thinly
3-4 strawberries, hulled and sliced (optional)
N cup mango, diced
3 tbsp ‘gulkand’
Walnuts to top
Put the fruits and 1 tbsp of ‘gulkand’ in a bowl and toss well. In a medium-size glass, place the assorted fruits until one-third full. Now add about O tbsp of ‘gulkand’ on the top. Add K cup of hung curd over this. Top the curd with O tbsp ‘gulkand’. Sprinkle walnuts. Repeat in another glass with the remaining fruits and curd. Chill for an hour. Serve cold with some honey drizzled on top. Makes a healthy, cooling breakfast.
Anusha Praveen, author of Tomato Blues, an Indian food blog.
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Vazha Pindi Thoran (Spiced stir-fried banana stem)
Banana stem: A great source of fibre, potassium and vitamin B6, this traditional Ayurvedic cooler helps maintain the fluid balance in the body.
Serves 2
200g banana stem, chopped
50g boiled ‘toor dal’
15g boiled ‘chana dal’
2 dry red chillies
A pinch of turmeric powder
20ml coconut oil
A pinch of asafoetida
A pinch of mustard seeds
Salt to taste
20g grated coconut
Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, red chillies, the ‘dals’ and slightly temper them. Now add the chopped banana stem and cook on a low flame for 5-7 minutes until it is half cooked and begins to soften. Flavour with turmeric, salt and asafoetida. Cook on a low flame until the banana stem is soft and dry. Sprinkle grated coconut and check for seasoning.
—Chef Vimal Vikraman
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Aloe Vera ki Subzi (Gwarpatha ki subzi)
Aloe vera: It is traditionally eaten for its cooling, anti-inflammatory and laxative
Serves 6
350g aloe vera leaves
3 tbsp raisins
4-5 ‘chhowara’ (dry dates)
K tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder
O tsp mango powder
3 tbsp refined oil
K tsp cumin seeds
N tsp asafoetida (‘heeng’)
K tsp sugar
1K tbsp curd
Wash and peel the aloe vera leaves to remove the outer green layer. Chop the inner gel into square pieces and pressure-cook for two whistles. Wash with cold water. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and asafoetida. When the cumin starts to crackle, add turmeric and boiled aloe vera and stir for 1 minute. Now, add curd, raisins, ‘chhowara’, sugar and the spices and stir for approximately 2 minutes. Take out in a bowl and serve.
—Bharti Sanghi, founder, Home Alone Foods, and a Marwari cuisine expert.
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Try to drink a lot of roasted barley water or buttermilk (‘chhachh’); they are intrinsically cooling. Herbal teas and fruit and vegetable juices are also naturally cooling. Skip aerated drinks as well as extremely sugary drinks as they dehydrate the body.
Most dairy products have neutral thermal qualities; yogurt is the most cooling.
Cooling spices include fresh ginger, marjoram, cilantro, lemon balm, peppermint and white peppercorn.
Pair the foods correctly. For example, in Indonesia, mutton is always served with a cooling salad of cucumber during summer, to counteract the heating effect of the meat. Have fruits and vegetables at room temperature so that they give the right amount of fluids to the body.
Skip fried foods and cut down on non-vegetarian dishes as these have the highest amount of thermogenics (ability of food to produce heat).
—Jyothi Setlur, Deepika Aggarwal and Livestrong.com.
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First Published: Mon, Jun 03 2013. 08 47 PM IST
More Topics: Nutrition | Diet | Cooling Foods | Summer | Recipes |