India’s Top 10 Traditional Drinks

Drinks of India: what should a tourist try?

In a country with a hot climate, there is a widespread culture of drinking all kinds of drinks: cooling, thirst quenching, revitalizing, invigorating, nutritious, and even giving an altered state of consciousness. In general, travelers to India will have to try many delicious drinks. Here is just a small list of what you can (and should) drink while traveling in this beautiful country.

A girl on a train in India

Masala tea – India’s main drink

Despite the fact that India has several large plantations of black and green tea as well as coffee, the local population drinks masala tea only, a black tea, which is pelleted and boiled in a saucepan with milk and spices to get the best color and flavor. On the streets you can find different versions of masala cooking: both in large pots on the fire, and in prehistoric samovars, decorated, as a rule, with Shivaist symbols.

Samovar in India

Classical masala is a tea brewed from milk and water in a 1:1 ratio with the addition of sugar, raw or dried ginger root, cardamom, black pepper, and some other spices. The set of spices added to the tea varies slightly, not only from state to state, but also from house to house. The beverage is brought to a boil and turned off after 5-10 minutes . It takes the tea to become dark milky, spicy and sweet. You can not only get drunk with such a drink, but also have breakfast. It relieves hunger, gives energy, and is great to drink even in 40-degree heat. Another drink worth trying in India is Kashaya (milk with spices), which Hindus drank before they started growing tea and switched to masala.

Masala Tea at Home

Masala tea is most often served in small glass cups, and on trains it is poured into disposable cups. Some places in the country sell tea and milk in clay bowls or glasses made of unburnt clay, which are immediately thrown away and then sent back for recycling. And in one cafe in Madurai, tea cups are actually made edible!

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As for coffee, it is not very popular in India. Except in the big cities, which are now actively adopting European and American culture. In small towns, if coffee is sold, it is more like masala. It is made with milk, sugar and even some spices. The taste is original and interesting. Sweet tooth coffee drinkers will like it, but real coffee drinkers will not appreciate it.

Masala on the Street

Drinking Water in India

As recommended in all travel guides in India, you should buy bottled water for drinking . Now the country produces many brands of water for all tastes. The most popular brands are Bisleri, Bailley, Evian, Aqua King, Mountain Valley Spring Water, Aquafina . Bisleri water with minerals, tasty and relatively affordable. We mostly take it when we travel.

Train water

The railroad also sells water of its own production (you can buy it both in trains and at any station). In addition, at large stations there are vending machines where you can buy water on tap, in your own container, very cheaply. Also, at almost any station there will be taps with “Drink water”, where people fill their bottles with water for drinking. This is not the best option for the unprepared digestive system of the traveler, but in the absence of other options can be considered.

Water in India

Coconut water is a must drink in southern India

In the southern Indian states at any time of the year you can find coconut vendors in the streets. Moving around the city on carts or standing stationary in one place, they sell the service of drinking coconut water. The seller uses a long machete to make a hole in the green coconut, inserts a tube in the hole, and gives the container to the buyer. The buyer drinks the coconut water and then, if the coconut is mature enough, the fruit is cut in two with a knife and allowed to eat its tender white flesh. An improvised spoon is made from a piece of the hard part of the nut.

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Coconuts in India

The ritual of “drinking coconut” is very peculiar and authentic. Coconut water is an excellent thirst quencher, rich in vitamins and useful elements.

Sugar cane juice

Along with coconut vendors, you can find sugar cane juice vendors in many cities in India. They are easily recognized by the loud operation of their “juicers.” These vendors have a special press machine that squeezes the cane stalk, and the juice from it drips into the customer’s glass. The freshly squeezed cane juice is sweet and generally pleasing to the palate. Additionally, the drink may be diluted with lime juice and a few ice cubes thrown in.

Sugar cane

Sugarcane juice is a must-try in India to get an idea of this drink.

Fermented Dairy Drinks

Milk and products based on it are in special reverence in India. After all, they are given by the Mother Cow herself – the main sacred animal of Hinduism. You can buy milk not only in packets in stores but also fresh from the milk cans from the vendors who drive around the streets of the town at certain hours and sell their product.

Rabri yummy

You can also buy in special shops:

  • mitha dudh – sweet hot milk;
  • dahi – a likeness of our yoghurt;
  • Rabri – sweet boiled milk resembling condensed milk;
  • kurd – thick kefir;
  • swith lassi – a liquid sweet yoghurt, often with various fruits added to it;
  • buttermilk – similar to our whey (usually unsweetened, but sometimes there are sweet versions).

Boils milk in India

What is bhang?

A special kind of Indian fermented milk drinks, which are recommended for consumption only by trained individuals, are bhangs or, as they are also called, bhang lassi (you can also find the name special lassi on the menu). It is a lassi-based drink to which natural ingredients are additionally added that can “shift the point of assembly”. Essentially, bhang lassi is sweet kefir with cannabis .

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Lassi in India

Sellers of the psychedelic drink can offer it in light, medium and strong versions . For the first taste, the light version and the obligatory presence of a trustworthy person nearby are enough. More advanced travelers can try a stronger version.

Bhang is most commonly available in shiva cities like Varanasi. It is advisable not to buy and consume the drink alone, as the reaction of an untrained body can be unpredictable.

Baba Shankar Giri

Carbonated beverages

World famous brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Fanta and Sprite have reached India as well. These drinks can easily be bought in supermarkets, grocery stores and bus/train stations. There are also their own analogues of these carbonated drinks in India, which are similar in taste and cheaper.

Cola in India

By the way, it is worth bearing in mind that when buying a drink in a glass container, the bottle can then be returned to the seller or to another shop or restaurant where they sell similar products. In India, it is customary to use glass bottles repeatedly. And if you are very lucky, for the returned container will give money or make a discount (although this is the exception rather than the rule).

What to drink at the resorts of Goa?

  • First of all, Goa is great with natural, freshly squeezed juices. Visit any of the nearby juice centers, you can drink plenty of the most exotic juices, like mango or watermelon. With great luck you can even taste niro, the sweetish juice of the cashew tree. In Indian stores and stalls you can almost always buy delicious bottled mango juice brand Maaza.
  • Secondly, Goa sells a lot of alcohol. This state has minimal taxes for producers of spirits, so you can buy almost any alcohol in stores and markets. Particularly popular is amber beer Kingfisher, produced here and rum Old Monk, sold in a variety of packaging, from very small jugs to quite decent bottles. In Goa tourists are offered to try the local varieties of moonshine made from cashews or coconuts: urrak (first distillation) or feni (several distillations). Urrak is low-degree and lighter, feni reaches 40 degrees and has a characteristic taste and stock. Port wine in Goa is represented by the brand Vinicola . The drink is very strong and sweet, produced in a factory built during the colonization of this part of India by the Portuguese. Also in liquor stores in India you can buy local wine, mainly produced in Nashik, and there are local types of whiskey and tequila. In general, the drink with a degree in Goa you will find for every taste!
  • Thirdly, in Goa many cafes and restaurants are oriented to Western tourists. Therefore, here you can enjoy as close to European versions of tea, coffee and similar drinks. By the way, chain fast food restaurants like McDonald’s are also happy to provide an opportunity to drink coffee, cappuccino or latte “like at home”.
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