On those really long, hot summer days, when the temperatures are so high you can literally feel yourself melting in the intense heat; what you need more than anything else is an ice-cold drink to fight the dehydration, quench your thirst and cool you down. We need to drink a lot of liquid to replenish our tired, withered bodies that have wilted under the sun but the truth is you soon get a little bored with plain old water and alcoholic drinks won’t do you any good either. Then there are all those fizzy, carbonated, sugary drinks that are just empty calories and they don’t actually quench your thirst, but stimulate it. So what should we be drinking?
For me, it’s time to dust off the juicer and try some new tastes and great flavours and get inspired by all those delicious summer fruits that are in season right now with some fresh juices and healthy smoothies.
I also look to the Middle East for inspiration as they have a real love of non-alcoholic drinks and it’s a tradition that dates back centuries. Sherbats or fruit cordials poured over crushed ice from Persia were often flavoured with orange, pomegranate, hibiscus and rosewater. I love flower waters and I often add a few drops to my desserts or iced drinks.
They are made from distilled petals and are used in syrups for a host of middle-eastern recipes. The best known are rosewater and orange blossom water and as they have a very concentrated flavour, they are best used sparingly. One or two drops are all you need to add a pleasing floral note to any dessert, fruit juice or smoothie. The other popular cold drink in the middle-eastern region is a diluted yoghurt known as Ayran.
Yoghurt drinks are extremely popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean and right into India where they are called lassi. They really do make lovely summer coolers and there’s no better way to beat the heat than with a tall, ice-cold glass of refreshing ayran! Frothy, minty, and just a tiny bit salty, ayran is here for every too-hot afternoon and too-spicy dinner.
Avocado, cucumber & lime Ayran
· 250ml Greek yoghurt
· 1⁄2 avocado, peeled & chopped
· 1⁄4 cucumber, peeled, deseeded & diced
· 150ml mineral water
· 6-8 mint leaves
· A few drops of lime juice
· Salt, to taste
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth puree.
Season with a little salt and pour into long glasses with over ice. Serve immediately.
Mango & Passion fruit Lassi
A Lassi is a yoghurt based drink from India and it’s packed with tropical flavours. It’s very refreshing on a summer day and also makes a great match with spicy foods or perfect as a morning smoothie.
· 2 ripe mangoes (they should give slightly when gently pressed)
· 3 ripe passion fruit, pulp removed and strained
· 1tbsp clear honey
· 200ml orange juice
· 100ml Greek yoghurt
· A pinch of ground cardamom
Slice the flesh away from either side of the mango stone, then scoop the mango flesh away from the skin. The mango pulp can then be frozen until you are ready to serve.
To finish, place all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
Pour into tall glasses over ice to serve.