Summer in India are Welcoming for two Big Reasons : Holidays and the wide varieties of Specialized food we have for this season. While the Holidays are just for the Kids , the food quotient is joyous for all age groups. The onset of Summer in India is marked by the new vendors with fruit trucks budding up on the street corners and the flocking crowd around them. The trucks are loaded with Summer fruits like Water melons, Musk Melons, Palm fruits, Tender coconuts and of course everyone’s dear Mangoes! Its not just the natural fruits that makes up our summer , but also the homemade Vadam(fryums) , Maavadu (Tender Mangoes) pickles that are made on Summers and stored for the entire year brings up equal joys on Summer.
I remember a Tender coconut vendor who had strategically placed his truck between an IT company and Multi specially hospital , tirelessly slicing off the coconut, making a hole and handing it over to his customers all over the day. He takes off only on Sunday evenings to visit the Beach in Chennai and enjoy his summer. Tender coconut ice-creams are also common these days. My mom is very fond of Watermelon and she makes it a point to get a melon everyday, juice it up and refrigerate it. As and when she passes by the fridge she would take a sip of it and enjoy her summer. Musk melon is always taken up with multiple scoops of sugars especially in the hot after noon. Mangoes, the king of summer fruits are the best way to end up an afternoon meal. Licking up the mangoes till the seeds are exposed with the smell of the fruit lasting in our hand for longer durations is just a splendid feeling. There are so many varieties of Mangoes and my father has a habit of bringing different ones everyday.
In summer , women of the households, gather together, make Vadams and dry it up in the terrace. Children during the summer vacations will guard the Vadams from Crows. These Vadams will be made for the entire year, to be fried and used as and when needed. Semi dried Vadams have their own taste and children who is appointed for guarding would pocket some of it and relish on it secretively. Vadams have health benefits, like Sago Vadam which cools down the body. We also make Vathal out of turkey berries, cluster beans, Mor Milagai (dried red chillies), Brinjal Vathal, Onion Vathal etc. These dried Vathal are stored for other seasons and are used for making gravies when we run out of vegetables.Maavadu (Tender Mangoes) is always in demand in the market and the pickles made out of it tastes heavenly. There are variety of other dishes made out of this. Salted Maavadu, Flavored Maavadu with red chilies when paired up well with Curd rice is a real bliss to have.
Drinking water stored in earthen pots have a cooling effect on our body. Vetiver (A kind of root) is sometimes added to this water to form a syrup which cools down body and cures up many diseases that are prevalent in summer. Nannari (Extracted from a herb root )sherbet is also very common during summer which again helps us beat the hot sun’s effect. Jigarthanda (Made out of Almond Pisin) is yet another an amazing drink, commonly found in the roadside shops.
It’s also a common practice in India, where people in households keep a pot of water, Butter milk or Paanagam (Jaggery drink with Lemon and ginger) in their verandah for the passersby to relax and take a break from the hot sun. I remember when I was holidaying in my Grand ma’s place in summer holidays, children from the neighboring schools would finish off their exams and throng in our verandah for the potted water and my Grand pa would sit back and enjoy the scene (What more joy can be there for a retired person??!!).
The nature has got a lot more to offer during summers and lets not hide up ourselves inside the home fearing the burning sun rather let’s just step out and celebrate the Summer!!.