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11 Indian Drinks You Haven't Heard Of And Need To Try Immediately

Because filter kaapi and masala chai are way too mainstream.

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1. Noon chai

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Noon chai or shir chai is a salty, milky take on tea, found only in Kashmiri homes, and typically had at the end of a rich meal. It's pale pink in colour, topped with some malai, and you will be in for a surprise when you take your first sip. (Spoiler alert: Unlike every other tea you've ever drank, it's salty... And still, bafflingly, delicious.)

2. Kadhai doodh

Amit Chaudhary / Via Twitter: @axchaudhary

A steaming hot post-dinner drink to beat the chilly, foggy winter nights of the North, milk is boiled for hours in an open kadhai till a thick layer of malai forms on top. Served boiling hot straight from the kadhai with a generous dollop of malai and some dry fruits in every kulhad. Very much an acquired taste, this drink is available only at your local halwai shop.

3. Nannari sarbath

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A South Indian street push-cart specialty, especially refreshing in the summers given its cooling properties and other health benefits, this is a sherbet made using the root of an Indian herb called Nannari or "Indian Sarsapilla". This is supposed to be one of the flavouring ingredients used in root-beers popular around the world.

4. Bovonto

Via shopeasyindia.com

Manufactured and marketed in Tamil Nadu, this is an indigenous Indian cola which came into existence in – wait for it – 1916! It has a different taste as compared to more mainstream colas due to lesser carbonation and a tangy grape juice flavor base. It has stood its own even against competition presented by the MNCs.

5. Kokum sherbat

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Kokum, the fruit of the Garcinia Indica tree, is mostly found in the Western Ghats of India. The drink made from its extract is very popular in Maharashtra, well loved for its wonderfully tangy flavour. Nowadays, kokum sherbet concentrates are freely available in most parts of the country.

6. Pehelwan Ki Lassi

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Famous in Banaras, this drink is a meal by itself (or at the very least dessert). Thicker than a Punjabi lassi, topped with malai and a good dollop of rabdi, no wonder it is called Pehelwan ki Lassi. Only Pehelwans (wrestlers) can justify having this drink for a midday snack! Some shops also sell this lassi with a topping of fruits and nuts.

7. Jil Jil Jigarthanda

Nandita Iyer

This drink has its origins in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, loosely translated in Hindi as "cool heart". Assembled and sold on roadside mobile carts or stalls, it is a sweet treat on hot days. It has four main – reduced milk, china grass, a herbal syrup (nannari/Indian sarsapilla) and a scoop of ice cream. The popularity of this drink is spreading to other cities in the South as well.

8. Neera

Via coconutboard.gov.in

Called palm nectar or sweet toddy, this is sap extracted from the toddy palms. It is even promoted by the Coconut Board as a health drink. It ferments to toddy within a few hours of extracting, so it needs to be had fresh.

9. Mahua

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Mahua is an evergreen tropical tree native to the states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, among other. Mahua flowers are used to prepare a liquor that is consumed by the locals. The drink is also called (no surprises here) Mahua.

10. Badam ka Sherbat

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A special kind of sherbet not made with your regular fruit (or flowers), this one uses almonds. Surely, the rich cuisine of the Mughals extends to their beverages as well. This almond sherbet is made from an almond concentrate that is diluted with milk and served with ice.

11. Bhang lassi

Tom Maisey / Via Flickr: tomm

With Holi right round the corner, we can't forget this "herbal yogurt smoothie" that's sold as "Special Lassi" in and around hotels in Rajasthan. Drink this at your own risk, and stick to government approved establishments or you may find yourself drunk and penniless for no fault of your own.