The Sindh province of Pakistan, bordering the northern regions of India, has had a remarkable influence on the refreshing beverages of the sub-continent. Sindh is a predominantly Muslim country, as a result, the ancient beliefs of this religion have shaped the culinary tradition of the Sindh people. As well as a wide number of delicious specialty dishes that mesh with the practice of Islamd, the province has developed a range of sumptuous drinks to sip on instead of the alcoholic beverages that are not traditionally consumed by followers of this faith.
One of the key characteristics of the Sindhi drinks that have seeped into Indian culture is that they are designed to provide relief from the stifling heat of the sun. Sindh is a tropical province and as such, experiences intense summers – in 2010 Pakistan recorded a temperature of 53.5 degrees Celsius, one of the hottest on record in the whole of Asia. With the cooling powers of a sugary Western soft drink such as Coca-Cola and Sprite often out of reach for many due to the cost, the following traditional Sindhi drinks rose to popularity to help beat that sunshine heat…
You can rely on a thadal vendor to be peddling their wares street-side when the sun has got its hat on in India. This sweet beverage is a favourite at Iftar, the evening meal permitted at Ramadan and also prized by the wrestlers of India for its energy boosting properties. A tantalising concoction, thandal consists of water, milk, almonds, melon and sugar as well as spices such as cardamom, aniseed and black pepper. Drop in a few chunks of ice, scatter a handful of watermelon seeds and perhaps toss a few rose petals into the mix, et voila! Ready to serve!
2. Seviyan khirni
Is it a drink or a dessert? Seviyan khirni ticks both boxes with its creamy, luxurious blend of milk, saffron and crunchy nuts. The unusual star ingredient is the strands of seviyan (vermicellli) that feature in this traditional drink.
3. Sharbat sandal
This fragrant drink isn’t just delicious but it is believed to be great for your health too. Sharbat sandal contains a hefty dose of sandalwood syrup for flavour, a substance considered to be an excellent tonic for the liver and heart. It is also thought to improve concentration and boost the circulatory system, helping blood pump more effectively round the body. As well as sandalwood powder, this beverage calls for sugar and lemon juice – a version of lemonade with a distinctively Indian twist.
A visit to one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants will deliver more than just a delectable range of authentic Indian dishes, tweaked to suit a contemporary taste. You will also be treated to a selection of refreshing Indian drinks to wash your meal down with. If a creative cocktail, infused with all the flavours of India, can’t tempt you then explore the range of alcohol-free drinks. From creamy lassis to exotic juices, you’ll be spoiled for choice and certainly won’t be leaving thirsty.