Coolers To Beat The Intense Summer Heat

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It’s that dreaded time of the year again. We are on the verge of summer and we all know what that means; the scorching sun mercilessly beating down upon us. The Pakistani summer is characterized by an exponential increase in the sale of all things cool and refreshing, like ice-cream, kulfi (a frozen milk-based treat with nuts and saffron) and juices. The number of juice-walas (read, roadside juice stalls) propping up all across the country is directly proportional to the ever-soaring temperatures. These juice-walas serve all kinds of tempting (albeit unhygienic) concoctions using popular ingredients like watermelons, lemons and rooh-afza (a Pakistani drink concentrate).

Commuting to work during summers is a chore most people detest, and there’s nothing more enticing than the call of the juice-wala screaming ‘Thanda Thanda Limo Pani. Sirf Panch Rupay, Panch Rupay, Panch Rupay!’ (Cool, cool lemonade for just five rupees). Please do not pay heed to the juice-wala, no matter how thirsty you may be. The contents of the juice are questionable at best and you never know when, if ever, the glass was last washed. Instead, pick up some fresh produce on your way home and make one of these five lip-smacking coolers to satisfy your summer craving.

Watermelon-Strawberry Cooler

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Ingredients:

  • 300 grams watermelon (just the red fleshy part)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4-5 strawberries (use frozen if fresh are not available)

Kiwi-Lemon Chiller

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Ingredients:

  • 3 kiwis (slightly ripe)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • ½ cup water

Pina Colada

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Ingredients:

  • ½ pineapple (use 4-5 slices of canned pineapple if fresh isn’t available)
  • ½ cup of coconut water

Lime-Mint Mojito

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Ingredients:

  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup water

Apple-Pomegranate Cocktail

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Ingredients:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 pomegranate

For all the recipes listed above, use the method listed below:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix well; if you have a juicer/extractor or a hand-blender, those would work too
  2. Use a fine-mesh sieve to remove the pulp from the juice; press on the pulp using a spoon to get all the juice out
  3. Keep the juice in the freezer for at least 1 hour
  4. Add a handful of crushed ice before serving

These drinks are an absolute hit at dinner parties, so why not be the juice-wala your guests desperately need you to be? Remember: with great power (read, recipes), comes great responsibility!

Enjoy!

p.s. Each of the recipes listed above takes a maximum of 5 minutes to prepare and yields approx. 250 to 300 ml sufficient for one large or two small servings, depending on how thirsty you are.

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Piri Piri Chicken Cutlets

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Ever since I first tried Nando’s some ten years back, I have been obsessed with the global phenomenon that is peri-peri; just thinking about the tangy-spicy flavor gets my mouth watering. I have been searching far and wide for the secret behind the peri-peri sauce, the infamous ‘African Birds-eye Chilies’ (a.k.a. piri-piri), so that I can try making the sauce at home, but until I do, I’ll have to settle for some store-bought (read uber-expensive) Nando’s sauce.

Ramadan is a time to thank Allah for all the bounties he has bestowed upon us; it is also a time for specially prepared feasts and platters full of delicacies to be shared with everyone (especially those less fortunate). After not having anything to eat or drink for almost fifteen hours daily, your mind naturally tends to think about food (a lot) and you cannot help but obsess over what needs to be cooked for the iftar (breaking of the fast at sunset). While fasting a few days back, I started lusting for some peri-peri goodness and thought of trying something new using the sauce as a key ingredient. Here’s what I came up with and believe me, it turned out fantastic; easy to make, perfectly crunchy, spicy and cheesy. It’s everything you’d want in a dish to satiate your Ramadan cravings.

This recipe here serves THREE people.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (cut horizontally into ½-inch thick fillets)
  • 3 tbsp + 2 tbsp Nando’s Hot peri peri sauce (you can choose to go for mild)
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4-5 slices of cheese (alternatively, you can go for a shredded mozzarella + cheddar combo instead for that rich thready texture)
  • 3-4 cups oil (for frying)

Method 

  1. Put the chicken fillets along with THREE tablespoons of peri-peri sauce into a bowl and mix well, ensuring that each piece is coated perfectly
  2. Set it up in the refrigerator for TWO to THREE hours to marinate; this step can be reduced to half-an-hour too but two to three hours gives the best results (taste-wise)
  3. Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl to make an egg-wash
  4. Take two plates and fill one with flour (add salt and pepper as seasoning to the flour) and the other with the bread crumbs
  5. Take a piece of chicken and coat it with the flour; ensure to coat properly and remove any excess
  6. Next, dip the chicken into the egg-wash; ensure to coat properly and remove any excess
  7. Finally, take the egg-washed chicken and drop it into the crumbs; ensure to coat properly and remove any excess
  8. Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 till all pieces have been coated properly
  9. Set it aside for FIFTEEN minutes to air-dry
  10. Here you actually have a choice: you can either (a) pan sear the chicken using a few tablespoons of olive oil or (b) deep fry it on medium heat till the chicken is tender and has a crisp-golden coat on either side – I prefer the deep-fried version
  11. As soon as you take the chicken cutlet out of the pan, add a slice of cheese (or the shredded combo) on top to allow it to melt
  12. In a separate bowl, mix two tablespoons of peri-peri sauce with cream cheese and mayonnaise to make the sauce; add some milk if you want to adjust the consistency
  13. Spread some sauce at the base of a plate and put the chicken cutlet on top
  14. Other garnish options include jalapenos, olives, spiced feta cheese, and even some tomato ketchup (if you’re really that into it)
  15. On the side, you can choose to add french fries or Peri Bites

All my Muslim readers will agree with me that coming up with something tantalizing (and different) for iftar each day is something we all fret over. Hopefully, this recipe will give you a much-needed additional option and will earn you some praise from children and adults alike. Enjoy!