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Summer Ingredients – Here comes the Sun

This summer, enjoy the sweltering heat and sumptuous foods, and leave the worrying to these masterminds who know it all.

This summer, enjoy the sweltering heat and sumptuous foods, and leave the worrying to these masterminds who know it all.

The gloomy winter clouds have been replaced with the mighty sun shining brightly and bringing fun, frolic and excitement with it. But wait a moment. The sweltering summer heat also means dehydration and exhaustion in every form! Worry not. The maestros of gastronomy know well the art of not only sumptuous-looking food, but also health for your body and mood! Hear those tummies grumbling yet?

In the summer time
According to these chefs, everything is under control and the only thing that you need to bother about is how to maximise your summer enjoyment! “Summer reminds me of vacation, colours, swimming, barbeques, music, spending time with friends and family, and sipping on beverages!” says Chef Arun Reddy, Seasonal Tastes, Westin Garden City, Mumbai. Chef Suresh Babu, Corporate Chef, Aloft Bengaluru, Whitefield says that summer is all about ice cream, lemonade, salads, fresh juices and good memories of doing nothing! “Just relaxing in the backyard garden with chilled watermelon juice and cool water splashes on hot days spells a perfect summer for me.”

While summers do increase your appetite, the focus should be on eating right. “Summer is the season when flowers of different colours bloom and bring colours of happiness in our lives. However, cuisine has to be savoured responsibly during summers. At Le Meridien Jaipur we have introduced ‘summer coolers’. These mocktails are light, colourful and very refreshing. The ‘Appletini’ and ‘Chuski’ mocktails have been exclusively developed by specialist bartenders at the hotel,” says Chef Mahesh Sharma, Executive Chef and Director Food & Beverage, Le Meridien Jaipur.

Chef Sunit Sharma, Four Points by Sheraton, Pune also shared that summers meant vibrant colours and they made full use of the colours by using fruits and vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, orange and citrus fruits, grapefruit, kiwi, melons and mangoes, which are all cooling because of the high moisture content. The chill factor also comes from frosted glasses of lassi, jal jeera, chhaas, aam ka panna, fruit smoothies, kokum sherbet and shikanji (Indian lemonade).

Don’t forget to toss up those salads with their crisp leaves and crunchy vegetables from a dip in an ice bath tossed with slightly tart dressings and crunchy nuts or croutons! Munch away!

Savoury summers
Know the perfect recipe to satiate your summery appetite? A little bit of salt, a little basking in the summer sun and just a relaxed mind will assure you a perfect summer. Modifying the cuisines slightly to reflect the spirit of summers is not only necessary but also delectable! These chefs know the perfect recipe to fill those growling stomachs and  know how to replenish what the sun’s rays take away from your body. According to Chef Sunit, summers means more of salads, raw or stir fried veggies, beverage shots and seasonal fruit based desserts! “Talking from the health aspect, we use less of dairy fat and more of olive oil, which is less greasy and not rich. We simplify cooking with more grills and barbeque preparation,” he shared.

According to Chef Mahesh, lighter finger foods, less spice and ingredients with lots of water content are ideal for summers. “To reflect the spirit of summer, I modify my recipes by adding different fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits which not only give a colourful touch to the food but also improves its nutritional value. For instance beetroot can be used either raw or cooked to some extent in salads, main course and as an accompaniment. A personal favourite, Beetroot Halwa, which is also very popular in my restaurants, is perfect. Vegetable salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, mint leaves, coriander and lemon juice, has all the right ingredients for summer and is full of water content. My kitchen’s consumption of watercress, mustard crush, papaya, watermelon and musk-melon increases substantially during the summers as these ingredients feature in various salads, juices and accompaniments in our cuisine. Summer also is the season of mangoes and we can never have or serve enough of this delightful ingredient!” he said. 

For Chef Reddy, fruit salads and desserts which include bananas, peaches, nectarines, celery and carrot sticks, are a safe and healthy bet. “For non-vegetarians, we include lean meat options such as beef, chicken or fish that are baked, broiled, roasted, grilled, stir-fried or steamed. We also include low fat drinks like orange and fresh vegetables based mocktails and low fat desserts like dark frozen sweet cherries, frozen grapes, chocolate covered frozen banana, grilled blackberries with white peaches and honey, grilled pineapple with pecans and rum, low fat fresh fruit ice creams and grilled banana sundaes,” he said.

The secret
Pampering not only your body, but also the luxe factor within you, these maestros have listed down few luxurious summer ingredients that they add to their food during the summer season.

According to Chef Mahesh, numerous summer ingredients can be added to a meal to spice it up like cumin, lemon, mint, honey, yogurt, raw mango, Keri, khas-khas (water soaked), chena, and more, that add a lot to the cool summer diet. “Personally, my favourite is Dahi Ke Kebab served with mint chutney, as it is made from yogurt and so soft and cheesy, but still cool for our system. Kairi Ki Chhaach, served as an appetizer, is locally very popular in this part of the country. Vegetable Raita is also a popular accompanying dish for Indian cuisine,” he said.

Chef Sunit Sharma gives us ingredients that define luxury with a capital L and make the mouth water just on reading! “According to me, five ingredients that are ideal for any summer meal are saffron, a very cooling spice, in Saffron Pilaf or meats marinated with saffron and lightly grilled on the BBQ; Balsamic Vinegar (reminds of sweet and tart grapes) for salads in the form of Vinaigrette; alfonso mangoes from Ratnagiri/Deogarh to be had with a dollop of ice-cream; Belgian chocolate in various forms, specially in beverages or tropical fruits fondue with summer fruit skewers dipped in it; and summer berries made into dessert tarts and/or topping for tropical salads.”

Chef Reddy suggests gorging on grilled vegetables like peppers, onions, carrots, zucchini, garlic, eggplant, celery and asparagus. The antioxidant properties present in these summer vegetables can help to minimize skin damage caused due to sun exposure during summer days. Another option he put forth were chilled soups like cucumber-dill, avocado and mint or gazpacho, which are loaded with crunchy vegetables. Moreover, soups also account to your total fluid intake and thus can help you stay hydrated. “Bean and sprout salads, walnuts and fibrous oats are also great options for a healthy diet. For the non-vegetarian, I would definitely suggest the intake of fish like tuna or salmon because of their richness in omega 3 fatty acids,” he said.

With all this food getting ready to satiate your relaxed summery appetites, we suggest you indulge without a drop of guilt. Whether tossing up these ingredients at home or while on a fun night out, we assure you taste and health at the very least. Say hello to a new healthy, happy and relaxed you and save the worrying for the end of the summer season!