By Mohit Dubey
Lucknow: As the mercury inches to newer highs this season, like elsewhere, this city of nawabs is parched and scurrying for cover from the extreme heat. And to quench their thirst denizens in the city and also the state are looking to a bevy of ‘desi coolers’ to help them keep their cool this summer.
Like in the past, while colas and other fizzy drinks are the toast from some, the preferred drinks remain the traditional lassi, bel badaam ka sherbet and the like, while others sip milk shakes, whose variety has been going up every year at some big shops serving them.
Topping the charts of desi coolers is the lassi – curd mixed with crushed ice and sugar with a dash of kesar. At many places, the lassi is served with malai (cream) and kewda or gulaab jal (rose water) added to it for flavour. Lassi connoisseurs still vouch for it, but with the prices of milk going up, the concoction has also become expensive.
Eighty-six-year-old Sharad Mishra chuckles while talking of lassi and says that despite his age now, he makes it a point to at least go twice a month to Narahi to have his favourite desi cooler. For the diabetics, the famous Shree lassi in Chowk has come up with sugar free lassi that comes for Rs.40 a glass. And a glass is quite a ‘Patiala’ (large) one!
The shop has been serving lassi for the last 30 years and owner Nitin Gupta says except for changing the serving dishes – from the earthen kulgad to the more hygenic disposable glasses – nothing has changed with the product. “We still use the fresh and purest of all milk available and do not mix anything else like khoya,” Gupta told IANS.
His clients generally savour piping hot chola-bhatura’s along with chilled lassi at his eatery.
The famous Raja Thandai shop in old Lucknow also does brisk business during summer. The 150-year old shop, whose clients include former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former MP and minister Lalji Tandon and veteran Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar, serves thandai added with a dash of rose flavour.
Owner Ashish Tripathi told IANS they have never used artificial flavours or essence in their products and the rose flavoured is made of the original.
Also on top of the minds of Lucknowites is the rich variety of milk shakes available at many places in the state capital.
The must-stop point for several in the city has been the ‘Chedi Lal’ milk shake point in Hazratganj, the most popular market in the city. One of the oldest shops in Ganj, the number of shakes served here has gone up from two to over a dozen now. It offers flavours like litchi, strawberry, cold coffee, mango and many others which simply are loved by those seeking relief from the blistering sun above.
Owner Amit Vaishya told IANS that the milk and the flavours are all supervised by him and there is nothing artificial as he tries to give the best to his customers.
Several ‘matha’ (buttermilk) shops have also come up in the city. Rehan Mallik, running one such shop in Indiranagar, said that the demand goes up big time in summer.
“While there are people who love lassi as well, the demand for buttermilk has gone up considerably largely because it is healthy and non-fattening,” Mallik told IANS.
The famous Prakash Kulfi has also had a makeover of taste with time. Manager Ishank Arora said with time, people now demand more and they have added a few more flavours to the traditional ‘kesar pista’.
“We now offer coconut, strawberry and chocolate flavours as well,” Arora told IANS, adding that sugar free kulfis are also available at the shop, which has been attracting hundreds every day and has made a name for itself.