If you like a lot of us have embarked on a dry January to combat the excesses of the festive season, here are some alternative drink ideas.

India has a host of drinks apart from the usual “mango lassi” that are hitherto unfamiliar to the west… Most of these, apart from taste, have properties to help cope with the elements or ailments be a cooling raw mango Panna or khus for the intense blazing summer, the red carrot and kanji drink for cold winter months, hot pepper rasam for coughs and colds, buttermilk for digestion or even the milk with ground almonds and pepper given by brides to their new husbands on wedding nights for additional energy…..the list is endless… Some of them taste better than others but others are amazingly effective even to sceptics like me.. So for example, my dad and grandmother drink a concoction of raw okra soaked in water overnight and it does work miracles for letting blood sugar at bay.

So if you have emabarked on a dry January then here are some ideas – each had their own taste, look and flavour..

1. Shikanji Ben : A drink made by soaking dried plums and then adding sugar, mint and roasted cumin seeds..

2. Falooda: An Indian milk shake with rose syrup, pistachios, vermicelli and basil seeds

3. Nimbu Soda which is nothing but Fresh Lime sweetened with sugar, a hint of salt and topped up with ice and soda .

4. Carrot Kanji: Ideal for the winter months, this fermented carrot drink is a favorite in Northern India and is said to contain probiotics and is made by boiling carrtos with water and adding mustard seeds and and salt and fermenting for a couple of days in the sun.

5. Rasam: Also know as pepper water, this southern Indian hot drink is amaxing for getting rid of coughs and colds and is amde by boiling Chana dal or lentils with tomatoes and adding curry leaves, pepper and a host of spices…

Let me know if you would like some recipes…