A glass of ragi (finger millet) jaava, popularly known as ‘ambali’, is the ideal beverage to beat the searing heat in summer. This traditional Indian cool drink, which, over the years, has lost its pride of place to the ‘Colas’, is unfortunately confined to certain pockets in the city.
One such area where ambali is readily available during summer is Musheerabad, and that too just for Rs. 5 a glass. The drink is widely consumed here by a regular clientele. Since 1999, Venkateswara Home Foods near Musheerabad crossroads has been the destination for locals who swear by the health benefits of the drink.
“During summer vacations, we used to spend a lot of time at our grandmother’s place. She used to mix rice, butter milk, ganji (water drained out of cooked rice), water and salt to make a heady concoction. I tried to recreate my grandmother’s recipe but in a modern way and people have liked it,” says Rakesh Goud, proprietor of Venkateswara Home Foods.
Rakesh prepares ragi jaava using ganji, ragi powder, water and some salt. “We soak ragi powder for a while before boiling it with other ingredients. We prepare the drink twice a day so that it is served hot and fresh. While the cost of sugarcane, watermelon and other fruit has gone up, we have kept the cost of one glass (of ragi jaava) at Rs. 5,” he said.
On a typical hot summer day, anywhere between 500 and 600 glasses of ragi jaava are consumed by the locals here. The demand for ragi jaava goes up immediately after Sivaratri, which marks the advent of summer in Hyderabad.
“Last year during summer we offered ragi jaava free of cost for one full day. We served close to 6,000 glasses one day. Our aim is to remind the public that there exists a healthy traditional Indian beverage,” Rakesh points out.