The food habits of Keralites were formed to suit the unique climate in the state which enjoyed moderate rainfalls, not too harsh summers and a tad bit of coldness. It was only during the Malayalam month of Karkidakam that the Malayalis treated themselves to a special diet to rejuvenate and refresh their body.
However, the summers have become unbearably hot and humid forcing us to change our diet patterns and follow food habits which helps us beat the heat. Most of the foods that we eat, as part of our food habit, do not suit the current climate. Summer is the time when the human body gets weak and exhausted pretty easily. So, consuming such foods would harm the digestive process. There are lots of dishes in the Kerala cuisine which increases the temperature of the body. In order to brave the scorching heat, we should consume food items which are lighter and cool and refresh the body.
Food which have salt, sweet, and sour in it should be included in our diet during the blazing summer. However, spicy food should be avoided and the use of chillies in dishes should be controlled. Staying away from junk food like burgers or sandwiches, too, is important to survive this harsh summer in a better way.
Say no to overeating
It is better to avoid overeating during summer. When your stomach is filled too much, especially during the noon, the body produces more amount of heat which disrupts the digestive process and causes sleeplessness at night as well. Avoid food loaded with masalas during the summer.
Drinking lots of clean water, in intervals, is essential to keep the body hydrated. Salted lemon juice is excellent to beat the heat. As your body loses salt, in excess, during summer, add a bit of salt in all the drinks that you consume. Cumin increases the body temperature. So, it is better to dry roast the cumin before adding it to flavour boiled water. However, it is important to note that drinking cold water will not particularly help regulate the body temperature. The heat released by the body will be slightly less as the cold water shrinks the blood vessels.
It is better to avoid consuming red meat like beef and mutton during summer. Fish is the only non-vegetarian food that could be included in your regular diet. However, fried fish should be avoided. Fish curry cooked in generous amount of coconut paste could be included in your menu. Mackerel and prawns which may shoot the body temperature should be avoided.
Buttermilk is excellent to quench thirst during summer and it cools the body as well. However, other milk products like ghee, butter, and cheese should be consumed in moderation during the summer season.
Rice gruel is the best
During the harsh summer, consuming salted rice gruel, even for breakfast, would do wonders. Raw mango chutney which isn't too spicy, sprout green grams or lime chutney would taste amazing with a bowl of hot rice gruel.
Wheat chapathi, puri or roti are not suitable to be eaten during the summer. However, broken wheat gruel is an amazing option. A special drink prepared by mixing sprout millet powder in milk, diluted with some water, is excellent to keep the body cool. It is extremely nutritious as well.
No to tea and coffee
Consuming sugar with tea or coffee powder would increase the rate of dehydration in the body. It is better to avoid tea or coffee during the day time in summer. Tea flavoured with cardamom could be consumed if necessary. Watermelon and cucumber juices are refreshing and cooling. Soda, sherbets, soft drinks and ice creams would only increase the thirst. Buttermilk flavoured with loads of curry leaves is an excellent drink. However, chillies should be added in it in moderation. Do not add ginger in the flavoured buttermilk. Instead of sugar, fresh honey could be added in the drinks for sweetness.
Pumpkin, papaya, spinach, cucumber, yam and jackfruit are excellent to be consumed during the summer. Green vegetables with lots of water content in it could be included in the daily diet. Bitter gourd which has great antiseptic properties should be eaten. Tomatoes which contain 93% water could be added in salads.
Do not add moringa leaves in the curries during this season. However, delicious curries with drumsticks and lentils are excellent. It is better to avoid snake beans, cauliflower, shallots, garlic and beetroots from the dishes until the summer season is over. Soak the vegetables in salt water before cooking it. Do not add too much masala in the curries. More than dishes with gravies, stir fries are better to be consumed now.
Natural drinks like tender coconut water and lemon juice are the best to replenish the body during this scorching summer. Though mango is abundantly available in summer, it increases the body heat. However, raw or ripened mangoes could be used in moderation. Adding a bit of salt in orange juice would help restore the balance of the electrolytes in the body.
Bananas, steamed big bananas, guava, pear, pomegranates, watermelon, plums, strawberries, litchi and kiwi fights fatigue during the summer and keeps the body cool. Limit the consumption of dry fruits during summer. Consuming vegetable or fruit soups are excellent to beat the heat. Mint and watermelon could be added in fruit soup.
6 cups watermelon (deseeded)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp mint (chopped)
Small piece of green chilli
Heat oil in a pan and sauté ginger garlic paste
Keep it aside
Add the mint into the watermelon and crush them well into a thick paste like consistency
Cook this mixture along with the previously sautéed ginger garlic paste in a pan
Cook on simmer until the water is reduced completed
Allow the soup to cool down
Garnish with ice cubes and mint leaves before serving.