Given the Indian climate, it's no surprise that Indian cuisine offers many delicious ways to cool off. Sweet, chilled desserts and drinks (and combinations of the two) are a mainstay throughout the continent, and many are widely beloved worldwide. Here are several refreshing treats you can make at home.
Traditionally available in delicious flavors like rose, cardamom, mango, and pistachio, kulfi can easily be prepared using simple ingredients—milk, sugar, and salt. You can flavor it with any ingredients you like, but make sure you don’t overpower the delicate taste of the caramelized milk compounds. Since it’s denser than traditional Western ice cream, it won’t melt as quickly, and will last longer in the summer heat.
There’s something so satisfying about a cool, rich pudding. It offers a silky-smooth texture that coats the tongue, and it can easily accommodate any manner of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit suspended throughout. Sevaya kheer is made in a similar way to kulfi. First, whole milk is boiled until thickened, which it does naturally without the use of thickeners or stabilizing agents. Then, sweet, slippery vermicelli noodles and pistachios, raisins, and almonds are stirred in until they’re coated in the custardy milk mixture.
Made with the key ingredients of vermicelli noodles and sweet basil seeds, falooda is a delicious cool drink that’s often enjoyed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and in its country of origin, Iran. The simplest falooda contains milk sweetened with rose syrup, vermicelli, and basil seeds, but it’s not uncommon to see tall glasses of falooda piled high with scoops of ice cream, kulfi, chopped fruit, or nuts. The sweet basil seeds become gelatinous when soaked in water, and they’re thought to have a cooling effect on the body.
Shrikhand is a deliciously cool dessert that takes very little effort to whip up. All you’ll need is full-fat yogurt and some cheesecloth. When you strain the yogurt through the cheesecloth for several hours, it makes a rich curd. Whipped, sweetened, and spiced, this curd turns into delicious shrikhand, which can be flavored with anything from mango pulp to cardamom and pistachios.