Monday, March 09, 2009

Let’s drink natural this Summer

Regular readers of this blog will know that I always recommended natural drinks instead of aerated softdrinks. This post is a quick listing of few such products and related info. Some of them you must be already familiar with. If there’re any other product you’d like to add, please comment.

Unlike bottled soft drink products with nationwide distribution network there’re challenges/limitations in availability preparation, storage, transportation and consumption of these alternate drinks and the likes of SRK, Sachin and Dhonis are not interested in speaking a few good words about these products, because there’s no big money involved. These natural drinks are made/sold mainly by unorganized small time merchants/small business units without heavy advertising budgets, so we need to use our own judgment to decide which one’s best suited for us.

1. Tender coconut water-
My favorite, but unfortunately it is getting more and more expensive. During my engineering days I used to get 3 small sized tender coconuts for Rs 10, now even the small sized not so good ones cost Rs 10+ and bigger and fresh ones cost Rs 15, 17 or even more. (May 2009 update: Good tender coconut costs Rs 18-20 in Chennai, price is cheaper in Bangalore at around Rs 12-15)
tender coconut on the tree

Try drinking it directly without using the straw. Avoid buying them near hospitals-Since tender coconut is recommended by doctors, shops near hospitals are found to sell it for a price premium. Bottled tender coconut water is also available in some cities.
I don’t have to go into details of goodness of tender coconut water-it is always refreshing and healthy. Some of its benefits (Sourced from FruitHut Beverages)benefits of coconut water vs soft drinks
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Low in fat 99% fat free
  • Keeps the body cool
  • Maintains the human body’s natural fluids levels
  • Low in naturally occurring sugars
  • Helps in carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells
More about tender coconut in this blog: Coco Fresco, Hyderabad * Upadhya’s tender coconut opener *
In some cities Tender coconut water is processed and sold in bottles.

2. Buttermilk-
Next favorite, provided it is prepared with right ingredients in right proportion. Adding water & salt to curd and stirring it doesn’t always make good buttermilk. A bit of pepper/chilly, ginger, dhaniya and such stuff should go into it to get the strong feel. Traditionally one had to make it at home or go to roadside shops/hotels for buttermilk, but currently buttermilk is sold in small packets as well. A 200 ml packet comes for Rs 2.50 or so


3. Lassi-
Though not my personal favorite and I don’t have much information, this is also a very good alternative. Also available in packets besides at hotels and dabhas.

4. Watermelon-
As there may be hygiene issues at roadside shops who cut watermelon and sell in small slices, I recommend buying an entire fruit and taking it home. Depending on season and shop, it costs anywhere between Rs 6/kg to Rs 25/kg and a small sized water melon weighs 2kg+. (Current rate in Chennai is Rs 10/kg- a normal sized one comes for Rs 30 and can serve a 4 member family twice to their heart’s content). Have heard of seedless variant but haven’t seen them. Easy to make a juice as well, if you prefer it that way. Yellow coloured ones are also available (costs more) besides conventional red coloured ones, but I’ve not felt any difference in taste and not worth the price difference. It is also available in different shapes (remember Japanese farmers growing square shaped ones?)

farmers unloading watermelon cargo at a village near Shimoga5. Sugarcane Juice-
Another favorite, but should be had without ice, because most of the vendors carry ice in gunny bags and store them in dirty places. Also there're some branded shops (Cane-o-La) which sell Sugar cane juice exclusively, in different flavors.

6. Toddy palm or palm apple-
Not easy to find a shop selling Toddy palm. But if I see one, I usually do not miss the opportunity to eat as much as possible. Insist on small sized fresh ones which have more water and tasty. In an attempt to clear their stock, vendors usually give you bigger and over ripe ones if you leave the selection to their discretion. More about Toddy palm in this post. (this is also getting expensive- was costing Rs 5 an year back for a unit (3 eyes), now costs Rs 10 in Bengaluru. In Chennai 5 eyes (about 2 units) cost Rs 10 currently)

7. Pudina water-
Have seen them in some shops in Hyderabad but haven’t tasted.

8. Lime juice-
Very easy to make. A great combination of sour lemon and sweet sugar.

9. Ganji/KooLu-
Not a cold product. This is a rather warm one and is a staple food in many parts of South India and is a very good energizer. Have it with pickle/fried chilly. More about Ganji/KooLu in this post.

10. Badam milk-
Available in bottles in most of the places. Sold in glasses directly from freezer in some places like Hyderabad.

11. Kulfi/other milk products-
Available in Nandini/Aavin outlets.

12. Other fruit juices-
Don’t have enough info to explain in detail. Most of the fruits can be converted into juices and with added sugar and ice, they taste much better than the fruit. Manufacturing process is fairly simple- peel off, chop, add into the container of a mixer grinder, add sugar, water/milk, stir, filter, serve...

But I hate buying fruit juices at shops here in Chennai, as the prices are unreasonably high. A glass of watermelon juice doesn’t cost more than Rs 5 for the amount of watermelon, sugar and electricity used, but it is priced at Rs 15-20. At least in Bangalore Sri Ganesha chain of Fruit juice centers and other places are selling them at reasonable price.


13. Ragi based products (contributed by MS)
Ragi malt (hot and cold), Ragi mudde (balls)-a nutrient meal and other Ragi products

14. Neera (Contributed by Sanjay)
Neera (more on Wikipedia) is a non alcoholic product but susceptible to fermentation. Treated versions which do not ferment are reportedly available. Reader's discretion advised.

15. Punarpuli sharbath (cocam, murugala, beerunda) - Contributed by Dr Pavanaja

There is a quality concern associated with some of the above products (water used in them, the way they are manufactured and stored), but it is not fair to generalize and with little extra effort I think we should be able to verify if quality is up to our satisfaction.

My strong recommendation (+request):

Please try any of the above alternatives before blindly buying a bottle of coke/Pepsi. Unlike coke/pepsi products these natural alternatives may not be available at all places all the time, but I am at least few of them will be available near your place and you might like them. you'll save some money and earn an iota of good health too.

Related: Travel writer Arun Bhat has a comprehensive collection of Summer destinations you may wish to visit this summer.

33 comments:

guruve said...

I Adore this Idea of preferring natural drinks over areated ones.

In bangalore tender cocunut now costs 12 Rs almost everywhere, and if one develops aquaintance with the vendor he will generally give a good tender cocunut (genuinley tender).

Raveesh Kumar said...

A comprehensive list of natural drinks!

shande said...

Other than tender coconut water, my choice will be Cane-o-La's sugarcane juice, mainly because of good hygiene standards and purity.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for the price update Guruve.

Thanks Raveesh

Sandeep,
Yes, I'd noticed few exclusive sugarcane shops which sell sugarcane juices in various flavors for about Rs 10 a glass-didn't knew their names...

Thanks

Sandesh said...

There is another fruit, we call it siddhota, and its related fruit, Kadapa Jam which is a product sold more in Summer. It also helps you beat the summer. =) will post a pic if i get to see one.

Ms said...

I think high on the list should be ragi based drinks. Ragi is the most nutritious grain, a staple meal for the poor and laborers. Various forms of ganji and other drinks are made by boiling ragi powder with water, some add jaggery or salt. This drink can be mixed with buttermilk too and has a "cooling" affect on the body supposedly.
Sadly as people see a rise in income and status, ragi is pushed aside and substituted by the less beneficial rice products.

Mridula said...

I adore tender coconut water, good list Shrinidi and your template looks good too.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sandesh,

Thanks for that info... Is this Sidhota same as one fruit named Chakotta or something- an over sized moosambi with a bit sour taste???

MS,

Yes, ragi based products deserve a mention. Will update the post to give them a mention

Mridula,
Thanks

Simulation said...

Some long elliptical shaped water melons like in the following url are nowadays available in Chennai.

http://www.ikunik.com/watermelon.htm

The price of these watermelons are just Rs.12 only at the Thirvanmiyur fruit market, opp to the temple on ECR.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for that Info Sundar...

Readers might also recall email forwards wherein Japanese formers have developed perfectly square shaped watermelon.

CUrrent rate at Spencers for normal watermelon is rs 7 per kg

Sandesh said...

It is round in shape. resembles pappaya inside.

I even forgot Ragi products. Thanks MS for that.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sandesh for the update.

Also I've updated the post with Ragi products

Ruchi said...

Tender coconut is my favorite but i believe lassi is best in summer.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Ruchi

ok.. appreciate your visit and comment.

Sanjay said...

I totally agree with what you said. BTW, you missed out an important Drink Neera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neera . it is unfermented Toddy. It is very tasty and nutricious. Too bad Karnataka has banned it due to use in Toddy making - it is like throwing the baby because bath water is dirty :-(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sanjay,

But it has a bit of alcohol content and hence I am reluctant to include it.

Sanjay said...

From wikipedia: "Neera is a non-alcoholic, and unfermented beverage.". The Neera that is commercially sold is treated to stop the fermentation. It is like boiling the milk to stop is from getting curdled. The CFTRI, Mysore has developed technology to keep it fresh for more than 2 months. EVEN tender coconut water will get fermented if left untreated. So I do not see any reason why not to include it..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

But the same Wikipedia says "Neera is highly susceptible to natural fermentation at ambient temperature within few hours of extraction from palms. Once fermented, it transforms to toddy with 4% alcohol."

But thanks for the additional info on that. Will consider including.

Vinay Krishna said...

Hey tripped on ur blog page. Good One.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Welcome Vinay.
Keep visiting. will check your blog now

phuket said...

you got very knowledge about health drinks

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Phuket. But I know only little

Anonymous said...

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Kcalpesh said...

Great bit of information!

Pixellicious Photos

Indrani said...

Great informative post.
I must make my daughters read it.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Kcalpesh

Indrani,
Sure. They drink lot of aerated drinks is it?

Maxi Dress said...

It was to hot in Phuket.I was looking something healthy drink.Thank you

Shrinidhi Hande said...

you're welcome

Anonymous said...

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

satish said...

Nice & informative.We have such a nice choice.Another good choice is Green gram( whole juice) with jaggery, Ginger etc.A good nutritive drink

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Satish

guru said...

its always better to opt locally available fresh fruits than the soft drinks such as Pepsi, cola

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes

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