So you’ve booked your cooking vacation to India with The International Kitchen. You’ve tried the recipes for Galawat Kebab, Murg Awadhi Tikka, and naan that you’ve found on our website and in our blog. You’ve read up on Indian spices and ingredients. You’re all ready to go, but you’re wondering what you’ll drink while you’re there, right?
It should be no surprise that tea is a staple in India. Remember back in your school days, when you read about the East India Company? India is still one of the largest producers of tea in the world, and its history in tea production provided the underpinning for things as momentous as British colonial rule and the American Revolution. (Ok, perhaps an exaggeration, but refresh your knowledge of the Boston Tea Party and you’ll see what I mean.)
Back to what you’ll drink on your cooking vacation to India.
Tea, for sure, although don’t expect it just to come in its traditional form. You’ll find all sorts of yummy tea drinks combining it with Indian spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, such as the popular Masala Chai. (If you saw our vocabulary lesson on our Facebook page yesterday, you’ll remember that Masala is a generic word for mixed spices.)
You’ll also surely see the popular yogurt-based drink known as Lassi, which comes in a variety of flavors and blends yogurt with water or milk, spices, and sometimes fruit, and chaas, a yogurt-based drink knowns as “buttermilk” for it slightly sour taste, even though it is not made from buttermilk at all! And you will of course find local varieties of sodas and fruit juices, as you would expect.
What about alcohol? You will definitely find beer, which has grown in popularity. You’ll also find various types of palm wine, or “toddy,” which use fermented palm nectar as their base. And don’t pass up the chance to try “fenny,” a local type of moonshine from Goa made with either coconut of cashew apples. You will find western wines, of course, particularly at high-end and continental restaurants, but their wine list will be based mostly on imports, as viticulture and wine making are very limited on the Indian subcontinent.
What’s your favorite thing to drink with Indian food? My usual pairing will be a nice cold beer, but a good Riesling, Pinot Gris, or even a sparkler can work well too!
By Peg Kern
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