Getting juiced up in India
Street food is common across India, especially in the north, and so are street drinks.
The two most common drinks are fresh crushed sugar cane and fresh lime soda and, of course, we’ve had both.
Our first one this trip was in a restaurant in Khan Market in New Delhi. Poor John noticed a sign that said 100 rupees for a fresh lime soda. It was blisteringly hot, so we went in and ordered two sweet–salted sodas, which were delicious. But imagine our surprise when the bill was for 333 rupees (almost A$7) instead of 200!
Turns out the posted price applies only to takeaway. The same drink inside the restaurant is 120 rupees and then there are all sorts of taxes in the big city. Sure reminded us that Khan Market is very upmarket!
Last week in Munnar we had lunch at Rapsy, a family-style restaurant, with one of the best sweet–salted fresh lime sodas we’ve ever had. Cost: 40 rupees each.
So what’s this sweet–salted business?
Your drink can be made just sweet, with several tablespoons of sugar syrup, or just salted, with a teaspoon or so of salt. Or you can order what we do, and have a combination of the two.
Our other best sweet–salted sodas were in Malvan near Tarkarli Beach. A woman had a tent set up on the sand and was making sodas to order. I noticed her when we were on our way to the island fort, and suggested we get drinks on the way back.
We did exactly that, and I watched her process. First she shook salt into the base of the glass, then she squeezed in the juice of a lime, then she added sugar syrup and chunks of ice, and finally topped up the glass with soda water.
She stored huge ice blocks in two derelict chest freezers that most likely hadn’t worked for many years, and chipped off bits as she needed them.
I no longer remember the exact price but I think each drink was no more than 20 rupees (or about 40 Australian cents). Bargain!
We had similar luck with crushed sugar cane drinks.
We bought those the next from a small shop in Malvan.
The fellow ran the sugar cane stalks through a crusher about eight times—each time squeezing out more juice. Geez, that was nerve-wracking to watch, because his fingers often came dangerously close to the crushing teeth.
He then strained the juice through a fine sieve and poured the result into glasses. This was another bargain at about 15 rupees a serving.
We’ll be heading home to Australia soon, and I’ll definitely start trying to perfect the fresh lime soda (hope limes aren’t too expensive) but I have no idea when the next sugar cane juice might come our way.
If you love juices, check out my cooking blog for a recipe for a Brazilian berry juice—colourful and delicious.