During the months of April and may, Goa is at its hotter end with humidity levels higher than usual. The heat coupled with the high levels of humidity often makes it unbearable leading to dehydration and fatigue. It is therefore that time of the year when people in Goa are thirsting for that super drink to quench themselves.
Also the desire to have a radiantly moist skin free of wrinkles or blemishes is there in almost everyone. The solution to have such a skin is to have lot of fluids free of alcohol.
In Goa traditionally people are known to have natural drinks to quench their thirst and cooling drinks such as tender coconut water, bhindachem sherbet , limbu sherbet and sugarcane juice are often served to guests in Goa.
Fresh lemon juice contains natural citric acid with ample vitamin C which helps to restore the electrolyte balance in the body. Kokum drinks are known to have proven to be effective against obesity. Another drink consumed by Goans during summertime is "kothmir-jeeryanche udak" which is a boiled decoction of coriander and cumin seeds. Drinks such as panak, tender coconut water keep the skin cells hydrated. Juices help our bodies get rid of toxins.
In Goa, Muslims serve sherbet-jaggery mixed with water and often flavoured with cardamom powder - On the day of Muharram. Panak is a juice prepared with kokum, fresh lime and water flavoured with spices. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Panak is served on the day of Gudi Padwa, specially prepared during vaishakhi in Hindu Mutts.
After separating the Kokum rinds, the seeds that are left are soaked in water for 1-2 hours and then drained. The water in which the seeds were dipped is then flavoured with pepper powder, salt and jaggery. This is traditionally prepared in clay pots.
Another way of making panak is by mixing water in fresh kokum extract( agal ) along with pepper powder, salt, ginger juice and jaggery. Instead of using fresh ginger juice, dry ginger powder (soonth) could be used. Another type of panak is made with lime juice, ginger powder, water and jaggery. Panak should be sweet and sour with a pungent tinge. Vitamin C in lime juice protects skin cells from free radical damage. Therefore drinking panak everyday will promote good health, heal your body, give you energy and prevent skin diseases.
Bhindache sherbet is a welcome drink prepared by soaking kokum rinds in water. After draining these, sugar, cumin seed powder and salt are added. Instead of cumin powder it is flavoured at times with cardamom powder. Panhe is prepared by boiling mature firm mangoes in water. the pulp is extracted mixed with sugar, ginger powder or cardamom powder and salt. This can be stored in bottles. In Maharashtra it is prepared by roasting green mangoes.
Limbache sherbet is a mix of lime juice , water, salt and sugar which is often flavoured with cardamom powder. In Goa, Catholics prepare "orchata" from almonds by blanching and then removing their skins. Almonds are then ground into a consistency of thick coconut milk ( aapross) and strained. Almond milk thus extracted is then mixed with a syrup of one string consistency, continuosly stirred so that no lumps are formed. this is cooked till a thick syrup is formed, rose essence or almond essence is added and it is preserved in a bottle. Cashew nuts are used in the preparation in case almonds are unavailable. Orchata is always served on special occasions in diluted form.
Also types of fruit syrups called Xerope are prepared in catholic homes in Goa. Hindus term Xerope as Sherbet. Xeropes are prepared from local limes grown in Goa, which have a thick pale orange skin when ripe. This is known as Xerope de limao. Kokum syrup is called Xerope de brindao whereas Jamun (jambla) syrup is called Xerope de jambulao.Syrups are also prepared from ripe passion fruits.
The most ideal syrup, Xerope or sherbet should always be the refreshing one with the right proportions of all the ingredients used especially the juices and the sugar. With Goa experiencing the heat of the moment, it could be a good time to try your hand at the various options available to Goans to cool themselves the most natural way.