The Famous Thirst Quenchers of Delhi
Watermeloned yoghurt and sparkling citrus
As the Delhi heat touches ever higher degrees and with the high humidity making things extra uncomfortable, it’s time to bring out the best of heat bashers, the thirst quenchers, the trusted and traditional good old summer drinks.
The list has lassi, rabri-faluda, lemon banta, jal jeera and the yet little known but trending sharbat-e mohabbat.
Drink of Love
Go to Amir’s Milk Shop in Matia Mahal near Jama Masjid for sharbat-e mohabbat. A relatively new craze in town, this is how the refreshing drink is made. Put a huge chunk of ice in a large utensil, pour milk into it and then add some Rooh Afza, that celebrated and ubiquitous summer sharbat.
Finally, add some dexterously cut small watermelon pieces and your sharbat-e mohabbat is ready.
It was the most popular drink in Matia Mahal during the recently celebrated month of Ramzan. It is chilled, lightly flavoured and the small pieces of watermelon add that extra crunch. It’s an unlikely combination that hits the home run.
This drink is said to have been created by Nawab Qureshi of Matia Mahal, who calls it by the name Pyaar Mohabbat Mazaa.
Rabri-faluda is a traditional preparation that you can drink as well as eat. The best place to have it, easily the most famous in Dilli, is Giani’s di Hatti on Church Mission Road, Khari Baoli, near the Fatehpuri Masjid in Chandini Chowk.
A preparation made with dry-fruit infused rabri (sweetened and flavoured condensed milk), faluda (a traditional form of vermicelli) and crushed ice. The concoction expertly whipped and served in a tall glass with a spoon.
Rabri-faluda is so good that it makes Dilli ki garmi a worthwhile experience to endure. Giani’s have been whipping out this drink since 1956 at the same spot. In those drinks the drink cost chaar ana, today it’ll set you back 80 rupees. But it’s money well spent.
Served from 9 in the morning till 11 at night, the version of rabri-faluda served at Giani’s was invented by Gurcharan Singh, in Lyallpur in west Punjab, now in Pakistan.
When it comes to a glass of refreshing lassi, the best bet for a long time now is Amritsari Lassi Wala at Fatehpuri Chowk in Chandini Chowk.
Their lassi is loaded with malai, finely cut dry fruit and fruit. It comes in a number of flavours such as mango, banana, kesar, rose and namkeen jeera. Regrettably, they serve it in plastic glasses now.
Meghraj and Sons, a hundred year old establishment nearby, are famous for their sweets also churn out a popular version of this traditional drink.
Or head to another famous lassi place nearby, the Hemchand Ladli Prasad Mishthan Bhandar established 80 years ago. Located on Kucha Ghasiram in Chandini Chowk, they make a hand-churned lassi using homemade curd. It is a must have.
Another good lassi pitstop is the Sudarshan Refreshment Centre in Chawari Bazar. They serve thandai, or flavoured milk and lassi. They don’t use any artificial flavouring, just fresh fruit.
Outside of Dilli, Zakir Nagar is home to the well known Pehalwan Lassi. Served in a substantial earthen utensil, this version of lassi is thick and topped with a layer of cream – one helping and you’ll be done for the day.
Bille di Hatti in Kamla Nagar near the DU North Campus is well known for its chhole puri and halwa, but they also whip up a good lassi.
Aggarwal Lassi in Sadar Bazaar, Delhi Cantt and the Baba Nagpal Corner in Lajpat Nagar 4, also are highly recommended places for a glassful of lassi.
The famous banta lemon is an all-time favourite summer drink, one we could very well afford to indulge in as kids. It is still going strong.
One of the best places to try it and other masala drinks is on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg opposite the Times of India building. On the corner of the street going towards Bal Bhawan is a stall that has been selling lemon banta masala for years.
Thankfully, even today you can find banta in most local markets.
So drink up Delhi, and beat the summer sun!