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

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


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)