Six Summer-Friendly Food To Keep You Going Amidst A Heat Wave

Summer is upon us and India is bracing for scorching heat from April through June. And if you’re in the central or western peninsular regions, staying hydrated should be on top of your mind as the heat wave is supposed to hit these regions the hardest. Along with rising temperatures, there is also a raging water crisis in the city of Bengaluru. A city whose famous weather was the redemption against its brutal traffic jams is now reeling under new record-high temperatures. 

What to cook and eat, and how to stay cool and healthy are daily dilemmas. Here I’m giving you a bunch of ingredients to fall back on during these hot days that will help you create some healthy meals and salads without heating the kitchen or needing too much cleanup. 

All recipe ideas can be searched on YouTube and most of the recipes are lunch box friendly. 


The predictable no. 1 on my list. Be it English cucumbers or the desi green or white cucumbers, this vegetable is the top summer choice. Get them into your salad bowl, cold soups, or raitas for a hydrating meal. Use a behavioural science hack to snack healthy by keeping chopped cucumber sticks in glass jars at eye level in the fridge so it’s the first thing you see and grab when you open the fridge for a chilled treat. 

Nutrition tip: Cucumbers are 95% water, low in calories but satiating as they need to be chewed and eaten slowly, a good source of vitamin C, K, and potassium, and rich in fibre. 

Recipe ideas – Smashed cucumber salad with Korean-style dressing , cucumber tomato gazpacho. 


The food that helps the majority of India tackle a hot summer, whether in the form of buttermilk, lassi, or raitas. Yogurt is also great in thick dressings, move aside mayo! In Turkish cuisine, yogurt is used along with seasonal vegetables, greens, or eggs and so can you. 

Nutrition tip: Greek Yogurt and skyr (Icelandic yogurt, now available in India) are also excellent sources of protein, making them doubly good for you. Rich in calcium and probiotics (especially in homemade dahi), it helps with bone health and digestive health. 

Recipe ideas – Cilbir (Turkish poached eggs with garlicky yogurt), raita with an unusual combination of vegetables and fruits, topped with nuts and seeds, labneh as a dip to go with veggie sticks

Rice Noodles 

An ingredient that requires no real cooking. Just boil a kettle of water, pour over the noodles, cover, and keep aside for 1-2 minutes. Drain well and you have a base ready for colourful Asian-style salads. Thinly sliced or shredded cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and tofu along with rice noodles, topped with soy honey dressings and the crunch of roasted peanuts is one of the best ways to celebrate summer in a bowl. The same can be said about rice paper rolls, also known as Vietnamese summer rolls. 

Nutrition tip: Gluten-free and easy to cook, these rice noodles make an effortless carb base for many dishes like salads or stir-fries. Even South Indian-style rice preparations like lemon rice or coconut rice can be prepared using these noodles as a base. Pair them with high-fibre and high-protein ingredients to make a balanced meal. 

Recipe ideas – Rainbow noodle salad, Thai curry noodle soup 


Mangoes are the highlight of Indian summers. While the natural sweetness of mangoes would make it seem like a more dessert-friendly fruit, it is one of my favourite fruits to add to a summer salad. Combining it with ingredients like cucumber, avocado, spinach or cheese provides a delicious contrast with the sweetness of mangoes. You can also do nothing to it and enjoy it at the end of the meal as a dessert. 

Nutrition tip: From vitamins (C, A, E, and K) and minerals to antioxidants and fibre, mangoes are a nutritious addition to any diet. Diabetics can also enjoy controlled portions of mangoes along with a meal or at the end of a balanced protein-fibre-rich meal to prevent sugar spikes from the sugar in the fruit. 

Recipe ideas –  Mango salsa with tomato, onion, coriander, and spices to go with crackers, mango salad with baby spinach and walnuts, mango with rolled oats, chia seeds and coconut milk 


It’s my favourite ingredient for summer. Just plucking, chopping, and cooking with it has a cooling effect on my mind. Mint isn’t merely a garnish. It is used as a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern salads. Fattoush and Tabbouleh are prime examples of salads where mint takes centre stage. Its vibrant aroma enhances the flavours of other summer staples like cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, and yogurt. Feel free to create your salad masterpiece by incorporating mint alongside any of these ingredients. Additionally, dried mint adds a delightful touch to salad dressings and raita, offering a burst of freshness in every bite. 

Nutrition tip: The aroma of mint acts as a mood enhancer. The essential oils in mint help alleviate bloating and indigestion. This refreshing herb is also rich in a variety of antioxidants. 

Recipe ideas – Tabbouleh, Minty peas and hung yogurt dip, watermelon mint salad, mint lemonade 


This juicy fruit is summer’s cooling balm. I keep a box of diced watermelon in the fridge to reach out to any time I want a refreshing snack on hot days. It is a happy addition to cold soups (gazpacho), salads, popsicles for children, and salsa while providing hydration in every bite (or sip). I have not come across a single person who won’t dive into a bowl of watermelon feta salad at this time of the year. 

Nutrition tip: Watermelon contains several antioxidants, including lycopene, beta-carotene, and cucurbitacin E. Lycopene, also present in tomatoes, is a powerful antioxidant that gives watermelon its red colour. It has been associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation, linked to chronic diseases and aging. 

Recipe ideas – Watermelon buttermilk (blend watermelon, dahi, salt, and cumin powder with water), watermelon salsa (with jalapenos, onion, coriander, and lemon juice), watermelon mint feta salad 

Whether you’re craving a light and hydrating salad, a cooling beverage, or a refreshing fruit salsa, these ingredients provide endless possibilities for satisfying and nutritious summer meals. So whether you’re in Bengaluru or elsewhere in India, enjoy delicious and healthy meals with these summer-friendly ingredients that help you stay well during the hottest months of the year.

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