No Sugar Added. Delicious Summer Coolers – Hibiscus and Anise Cold Brew Tea

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As the summer progresses, appetite and cravings that we associate with the colder months vanishes. The requirements of the body change, from seeking warmth we all look for ways to cool off from the scorching sun. Whether we are out and about or are spending all our time in air-conditioning, our bodies are dehydrated and we naturally crave cold sweet liquids. While sherbets are great and am a big fan of a good rose sherbet, we all seek options which do not have added refined sugar.

Such cooling drinks use the natural sugars already existing in the fruit which takes away the need to add refined sugar.

So what I have for you are two summer cooler recipes which are very easy to make, will be liked by adults and children alike and are also a great base for cocktails.
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Hibiscus and Anise Cold Brew Tea

Hibiscus Flower Tea, is a joyous experience on its own. First the colour, liquid ruby red, with a sheen giving you the perception of liquid crystal. Aroma, very floral and one can almost be sure that the waft tells you that it will be deliciously tart and that it is. Floral and Tarty in flavour. And last but not the least, packed full of anti oxidants. It’s great on its own.

Now let’s talk about the other ingredient, anise. Sauff, as it is popularly called in India. I picked up some from a proper spice market in the interiors of Rajasthan. An experience that was memorable, because even if anyone was taken to that market blindfolded, they would know we were dealing with anise/ aniseed. A tea made with anise, is also an aromatic play on the senses. Fills the house with the fragrance, leaves behind a pretty green liquid, and is definitely flavourful with a sweet aftertaste.

So the work to be done is simple. Make the two teas, Anise and Hibiscus and let is cool down. If you are serving children, they might want it to be a little sweeter and for that you can add Honey or Maple Syrup or Agave. Do not add any powered sugar. That will make the tea cloudy and less appealing to the eye. And who wants to spoil the real spectacle of mixing two clear green and red liquids as per taste.

So whenever I make this tea, I like to make it a little DIY, serve cold iced glasses, with two unusual carafes (hoarded over the years from my collection of ever breaking glassware), one with chilled Hibiscus Tea and another with chilled Anise/ Aniseed Tea, and then allow the everyone to blend their own, adds to the drama and makes serving more interesting.
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Ingredients:

Anise/ Aniseed Tea
3-4 tsp anise/aniseed (choose the thicker ones, they are sweeter)
4 cups water

Hibiscus Tea
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers( might seem a lot but these take up a lot of volume)
4 cups water

1. Make the Anise/ Aniseed Tea. Boil the water in a heavy bottomed pan
2. Once the water starts to boil, add the anise/aniseed.
3. Boil the tea on medium flame for 5-7 minutes or till the colour of the water is green and you can smell the aroma everywhere.
4. Strain and cool
5. Make the Hibiscus Tea. Boil the water in a heavy bottomed pan. You can also use a kettle.
6. Once the water has come to boil, add the hibiscus flowers and let it steep
7. After 5-7 minutes, the petals will steel and sink to the bottom.
8. Strain and cool
9. To serve, fill glasses with ice cubes. Mix the two teas in equal proportion. 10. The colour of the hibiscus tea will take over, but you can taste a refreshing cool beverage with the floral tartness of Hibiscus, rounded off by the sweet aromas of anise/ aniseed.

Charnamrita inspired breakfast bowl

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I vividly remember two occasions when I have had a Panchamrita/ Charnamrita. One was when my aunt had taken us two sisters for attending some Puja in an old haveli in Lucknow. I remember asking for a second helping of the 1-2 tablespoon serving that we were given. And the other time when a dear friend’s mother had summoned me to help mash bananas in a big pot of cold milk and yogurt mixture. I was then made aware that this has to be done by hand only.

Panchamrita/ Charnamrita is the offering to the Divine and then consumed also by those making the offering. Yogurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar, Indian Basil. Dry fruits, and bananas are added by others.

Because it is so tasty I thought about using the same ingredients with the addition of roasted Amarnath and Foxnut, which is very popular food during this fasting time and making a breakfast bowl.
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Ingredients:
1 cup Yogurt
2 cup Milk/ Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Honey (you could use a combination of sugar and honey)
1/4 cup Ghee
2 Bananas
1/2 cup Dry Fruits of your choice
1 cup Roasted Foxnut
1 cup Roasted Amarnath seeds
2-3 sprigs Indian Basil

1. Soak the torn Indian Basil leaves in the milk for a few hours.
2. Peel and mash the bananas in the yogurt. I did it by hand, just for the memory. It is fun. You can try it.
3. Mix the milk, ghee and honey into the banana yogurt mixture. Once every thing is assimilated add the dry fruits, roasted foxnut and roasted amarnath seeds.
4. Divide into bowls and serve.
5. Its another great bowl of food post a morning yoga flow.
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A mouthful of coconut (energy balls to the world, laddoos to Indians)

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Rituals in India include coconut in many ways. It is considered auspicious and is a staple across the vast coastline of India. It is now that the world has woken up to the possibilities of coconut and its dense nutritional value is fast gaining dominance in cooking, the world over.

During any festivities, yogic or ritualistic fasts, coconut and preparation from coconut is very common. So are coconut laddoos. Traditionally the coconut is cooked in milk, which I have replaced with coconut milk to become a completely plant based dessert.

The other thing done is that if coconut sugar is used the flavour is stronger and makes the laddoos more vegan friendly.

These are great post work out treats for me.
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Ingredients:
100 gms Desiccated coconut, plus some extra for rolling the laddoos in
50 gms Raw/ unrefined/ coconut sugar
1 tbsp Coconut oil
200 ml Coconut milk

1. Heat a heavy bottomed wok or pan. Ensure it remains on low heat all the time. The temptation to turn up the heat and expedite the process of cooking is very high. We are conscious cooking these days, so just enjoy the fragrance wafting in the house while preparing this. Also this will ensure that these coconut laddoos remain as white even when cooked
2. Add the coconut oil to the pan and the desiccated coconut and gently stir. Continue stirring till the decimated coconut is still white, but slightly toasted through and before it changes colour. Add the coconut milk and the sugar and continue stirring. Stir over low flame for about 8-10 minutes
3. Once the mixture is no longer loose and starts to leave the sides and comes together, turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. I like my laddoos to be very soft and hence I almost have a wobbly structure to my laddoos. But if you like a little more bite, cook the mixture a little more, till it is as dense as you like.
4. Once cooled, add some oil to your palms and form balls laddoos. Roll the balls/ laddoos in desiccated coconut and allow to cool. You can store it in the fridge as well, but they will fast disappear where ever you try to hide them.
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