20 Indian Drinks To Try In India

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When you’re travelling through India, the two things you’ll experience as soon as you land are the food and the weather. India mainly has three seasons – summer, monsoon season and winter. And every season has food and drinks that match the weather.

There are drinks for every climate and mood, whether the hot summers tempt you to drink something cool or the rainy or cool weather that makes you long for something warm. What’s more, depending on your region, you will get to taste a unique mix of flavours in the drinks. Even a simple tea (or Chai, as it is called everywhere now) has many flavours in India.

If you are looking for alcoholic Indian drinks to accompany that incredibly tasty biryani or butter chicken roti combo or sit amidst the Himalayan mountains sipping on a soul-warming drink taking in nature, we have you covered.

Indian Drinks

Indian drinks
Every season has food and drinks that match the weather. Most visitors relish the food but don’t forget to try some Indian drinks when visiting.

Non-Alcoholic Indian Drinks

Many Indian drinks are popular worldwide, and you would have come across some version of Chai, Lassi, or Sharbat in your journeys. Some drinks like Masala Chai or Chai Tea Latte even made it to menus of international Food Chains like Starbucks and many Michelin-star restaurants worldwide. These drinks are just some of the list of all the amazing beverages India has to offer.

India is diverse and has a rich history of many civilisations that date back to the pre-Christ era. The diversity exists even today and is visible through the languages, customs and food habits unique to each region.

1- Masala Chai

indian chai drinks cup of chai with ingredients strewn on a wooden table
Masala Chai is one of the most popular Indian drinks that is consumed worldwide.

Masala Chai is a quintessential tea and milk-based drink of the Indian subcontinent.

Simply put, Masala Chai is a tea preparation containing milk, sugar, and various spices.

The aroma and taste of tea leaves mixed with the spices is what makes Masala Chai so unique and delightful to drink.

The Masala mix, which goes into the Chai, usually contains cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and other spices.

However, remember that the combination of spices typically varies from place to place, and the uniqueness of Masala Chai also lies in that the flavour changes with the mix of spices.

You could have a Chai that is strong in cinnamon flavour in one restaurant while an equally tasty dried ginger chai in another.

What flavour tingles your tastebuds and makes you return for more depends on your preferences.

There are some regions in India where tea is prepared using jaggery or palm sugar instead of regular sugar; needless to say, they taste unique too. And yes, you can drink the Masala Chai black if you do not want to add milk. Popular alternatives to Masala Chai are Irani Chai or Cutting Chai.

Typical Ingredients: Tea Leaves, Milk, Sugar, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Dried Ginger, Cloves, Nutmeg.
Where To Get It: Throughout India in restaurants, Irani cafes, street vendors, and Masala tea powder is available in supermarkets.

2- Lassi

indian milk drinks Milk drink on black background with mango.
Lassi is a traditional drink in India that is soothing to sip on warm days.

If you are travelling on a hot summer day and want to cool off with a filling Yoghurt-based drink, look no further than the Lassi.

The Punjab region in India is famous for its rich and creamy Lassi preparations that include sweet yoghurt, dry fruits and spices.

Lassi is traditionally prepared in clay pots, which infuse an earthy flavour into the drink.

Top it off with a dollop of malai (the layer of cream that forms by boiling and cooling milk rich in protein), and you’ll have a hearty drink that also serves as a sweet finish for any meal.

Lassi can have many flavours, including mango, rose, strawberry, dry fruit, and can also be taken in its simple sweetened form without mixing any flavours.

Whichever way you have it, make sure to drink it chilled, and you will be craving more.

Typical Ingredients: Yoghurt, Sugar, Water, Fruits, Dry Fruits, Spices
Where To Get It: In restaurants, street vendors and supermarkets throughout India.

3- Buttermilk or Chaach

indian drinks buttermilk lassi
Buttermilk Lassi is another of the popular Indian drinks in the north.

A saltier and more diluted version of Lassi is the Chaach, as it is called in North India, and is a diluted yoghurt drink that serves as a replacement for water.

Generally frothy and light on the stomach, this Indian drink is often used as an accompaniment to spicy Indian food to aid digestion or sometimes just to cool off after a hot summer day.

Garnish the ice-cold Chaach with mint leaves, and you will be thoroughly refreshed.

Typical Ingredients: Yoghurt, Water, Salt, Cumin, Curry Leaves, Corianer, Ginger, Mint Leaves, Spices
Where To Get It: Throughout India in restaurants, from street vendors and supermarkets.

4- Aam (Mango) ka Pannah

Sweet and sour-tasting Aam ka Pannah is one of the favourite water-based drinks for many Indians.

Originating from Gujarat state, this is an exhilarating Indian summer drink made from raw mango pulp, sugar, salt and spices like cumin, pepper, saffron and cardamom.

This drink will protect you from dehydration from the summer sun and can double up as a drink to prevent constipation, acidity and indigestion.

Typical Ingredients: Raw Mango Pulp, Water, Sugar, Salt, Cumin, Pepper, Cardamom, Mint Leaves.
Where To Get It: Gujarat, Maharashtra. Restaurants, street vendors selling Aam Ka Pannah.

5- Thandai

non alcoholic indian drinks glass of thandai with cinnamon sticks on a table
Thandai or Sardai made during Holi festival is a cold milk Indian drink with nuts and spices.

If you have heard of Holi, there is a chance you must have heard about Thandai.

This milk-based drink is extremely popular in North India and is widely consumed during Holi and Maha Shivaratri festivals.

If you visit any community celebrating Holi within India or your own country, you will find Thandai being served.

Like many other summer drinks in India, this drink is consumed cold to beat the summer heat.

Thandai is a milk-based sweet drink that is a mix of dry fruits and spices.

Almonds, mixed with cardamom, cinnamon, cashews, and saffron are generally the main flavours of the drink, but you can find them in other flavours too.

Typical Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Almonds, Cardamom, Cinnamom, Pista, Cashews
Where To Get It: North India, especially during Holi And Maha Shivaratri festivals. In restaurants, supermarkets and from street vendors in summer.

6- Panakam

indian summer drinks Panakam two glasses and a jug
Panakam is one of the popular Indian summer drinks to try when you visit.

This is a popular South Indian water-based drink prepared during festivals and summer.

In the olden days, Panakam was used as an Oral Rehydrating Solution (ORS) and was a common carry-on during summer journeys.

Panakam is a jaggery and water-based drink which can be spiced up using cardamom, dry ginger, peppercorns, lemon juice and other ingredients to make it sweet and tangy.

This drink is often consumed at room temperature, making it an ideal travel drink.

Carry a bottle filled with Panakam, and you need not worry about the summer heat.

Typical Ingredients: Jaggery, Water, Dried Ginger, Cardamom, Lemon Juice, Peppercorns
Where To Get It: South India, during festivals and from street vendors in summer.

7- Jal jeera

indian energy drinks Jeera water with some raw organic cumin
A herbal detoxifying Jal Jeera with some raw organic cumin.

Jal Jeera is a tangy and spicy water-based drink that is often used as an appetiser for a meal course and as a digestive aid for an upset stomach.

Although it originated in North India, it is a very popular drink throughout India, and many popular restaurants serve it as a welcome entrée.

The drink has many ingredients like rock salt, coriander, mint, cumin, dry mango powder and pepper, which lend a spicy and tangy taste.

It is often used as a home remedy for nausea, acidity, cramps, and weight loss and is a terrific source of Vitamin C.

Typical Ingredients: Water, Rock Sale, Coriander, Mint leaves, Grounded Peppercorns, Salt, Roasted Cumin, Dry Mango Powder.
Where To Get It: In restaurants and street vendors throughout India. You can also buy Jal Jeera mix in supermarkets.

8- Jigarthanda

Jigarthanda is a milk-based summer drink that originated in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India.

The word “Jigarthanda” in Hindi means keeping your heart cool, and the drink manages to do that.

This drink helps keep you cool and is the perfect recipe to beat the summer sun.

The drink’s ingredients are somewhat unique to the state of Tamil Nadu, although one can drink it in Tamil Nadu-based restaurant chains throughout India.

Jigarthanda is prepared using Almond bark gum, Nannari syrup (which contains sarsaparilla herbs), boiled milk, sugar and ice cream.

The latter is added just to make the drink irresistible.

Typical Ingredients: Boiled Milk, Sugar, Almond bark gum, Nannari syrup
Where To Get It: South India in Tamil Nadu in restaurants and from street vendors.

9- Falooda

indian summer drinks glass with pink drink with some rose petals on black colored shiny surface.
A colourful popular Indian summer drink called gulab falooda or gulab ka sherbat.

Falooda is a milk-based cold dessert drink that is one of the legacy desserts passed down from the Mughals who ruled the Indian sub-continent centuries ago.

The drink is a filling summer cooler and is often used as an alternative to a skipped lunch.

Falooda is uniquely served in a tall wide glass with the ingredients layered one upon the other.

The main ingredients are milk, sabja seeds (also known as tukmaria seeds), rose syrup, thin vermicelli noodles and jello, garnished with dry fruit.

Sabja seeds are especially popular in India to treat upset stomachs or diarrhoea as an alternative to lunch or dinner.

You could use a tall spoon (called Amitabh Bachchan spoon, based on the famous Bollywood actor with the same name) to scoop all the layers at once, which makes it fun to consume it.

Typical Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Sabja Seeds, Rose Syrup, Vermicelli Noodles, Jello, Dry Fruit
Where To Get It: Throughout India in restaurants, Irani cafes and from street vendors.

10- Shikanji

west indian drinks jug of lemonade, ginger and half a lemon
A jug of homemade Shikanji lemonade is just what you need on a hot summer’s day. Add ginger and spices like cumin and saffron.

Shikanji is a refreshing lemony water-based drink originating in North India.

Shikanji is slightly different from lemonade in the way it is prepared and the ingredients used.

The drink is one of the most popular street drinks in North India and is very effective in instantly hydrating the body and providing respite from the summer heat.

Although lemon is the key ingredient, Shikanji is prepared using slightly different recipes in different parts of India and contains a mix of sugar syrup, salt, and spices like coriander, cumin, pepper and carbonated water.

You can use various combinations of ingredients like rose water instead of carbonated water, add mint leaves, and use jaggery sugar or honey to get unique variations in taste.

Typical Ingredients: Lemon juice, Sugar syrup, Carbonated Water, Roasted Cumin, Coriander, Salt, Pepper
Where To Get It: North India in restaurants and from street vendors.

11- Goli soda

Indian soft drinks
Keep an eye out for Indian soft drinks vendors as you travel around.

Goli Soda is a very popular streetside carbonated water-based drink that originated in India before the country’s Independence from British rule.

The carbonated drinks are served in Codd-neck bottles which use a glass marble (called Goli in Hindi) to seal the bottle and prevent the fizz from escaping.

The marble is pressed down using your finger to release the pressurised gas and get the iconic pop sound.

The drink’s main ingredients are sugar syrup and carbonated water, available in various flavours like lime, orange, cola and blueberry.

Goli soda is available throughout India and is a perfect drink to quench your thirst.

For decades, Goli Sodas were synonymous with Street Side Drinks.

You could always count on finding a Street Vendor selling this drink wherever you are in India.

Typical Ingredients: Flavored Carbonated Water, Sugar Syrup
Where To Get It: Throughout India in restaurants and from street vendors.

12- Kahwa

indian non alcoholic drinks Kahwa
Kahwa is one of the common non-alcoholic Indian drinks you may come across.

This is a traditional Kashmiri water-based green tea that originated centuries ago during the Mughal rule of the Indian subcontinent.

This drink is quite popular in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the trail of Kahwa goes as far as Turkey, all of which were a part of the Spice Trade.

Unlike most of the other drinks on this list which are summer coolers, this drink is a winter warmer.

A hot cup of Kahwa flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, cloves garnished with rose petals, sliced almonds, and other dry fruit will keep you warm on a cold day.

Typical Ingredients: Green tea, Water, Sugar, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Saffron, Cloves, Rose Petals, Sliced Almonds, Dry Fruits
Where To Get It: Kashmir in restaurants and from street vendors. Kashmiri Kahwa Tea is also available in supermarkets.

13- Kashmiri Noon Chai

Noon Chai, also called Sheer Chai or Gulab Chai is a traditional milk-based tea originating in Kashmir.

The tea has a unique pink colour (hence the name Gulab Chai), and unlike regular tea, which is generally sweet, Noon Chai can be made with salt.

The tea is made using rolled green tea leaves (gunpowder tea), milk, salt or sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and baking soda and garnished with pistachios and other dry fruit.

The baking soda mixes with the tea leaves while being boiled and provides a pink colour to the tea.

The Chai is best served with evening snacks and is thoroughly enjoyable while sitting outside and enjoying the magnificence of the Himalayas.

Typical Ingredients: Gunpowder Tea, Milk, Salt or Sugar, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Pistachios, Dry Fruits.
Where To Get It: Kashmir in restaurants and from street vendors.

Alcoholic Drinks In India

Being an Agrarian economy, India is home to many types of spirits and liquors that are fermented beverages of agricultural produce. Many alcoholic drinks in India are made from fermented fruits or cereals, containing sugar converted into alcohol.

Farmers and locals in rural areas have easier access to agricultural produce and have perfected techniques to ferment and distil alcohol over generations of practice. This makes locally made spirits and beers more common in rural areas and farming communities. These are the more popular and widely consumed alcoholic drinks you must try in India.

14- Feni

Goa is a popular state in India famous for its beaches and strong alcoholic spirit, Feni.

There are two versions of Feni, one made from fermented coconut and the other from fermented cashew fruit.

Cashew Feni is made by distilling fermented cashew fruit juice multiple times, each distillation increasing the alcohol content.

Cashew Feni is popular for having very high alcohol content (more than 40%) and is best consumed in smaller quantities, combining it with other non-alcoholic drinks.

Fermented From: Cashew Or Coconut
Alcohol Percentage: Very High (above 40%)
Where To Get It: Goa in restaurants and supermarkets.

15- Bhang Thandai

indian drinks non alcoholic
Bang Thandai is an interesting Indian drink that is a variation on ordinary Thandai.

Thandai is a popular Northern Indian drink but what makes it even more well known is its consumption as a Cannabis-infused drink called Bhang Thandai.

This drink is made by mixing Thandai with Bhang, a preparation of edible Cannabis plants.

Bhang has been consumed in India for many centuries and was popular in ancient India as an ayurvedic medicinal preparation.

Although not a highly alcoholic drink, it is quite intoxicating if taken in large quantities.

The best time to enjoy a Bhang Thandai is during the Holi festival in India. An alternative to Bhang Thandai is the Bhang Lassi, which is Lassi infused with Bhang.

Typical Ingredients: Thandai drink, Cannabis preparation
Where To Get It: North India in licensed Bhang shops and during Holi celebrations.

16- Kallu

indian drinks recipe Isolated image of fresh toddy palms.
Kallu is one of the Indian drinks made from toddy palms.

Kallu, or Palm Toddy, is an alcoholic drink mainly consumed in South India and obtained from palm tree sap.

Freshly sourced toddy is not alcoholic as it hasn’t been fermented yet.

Storing toddy under specific conditions ferments the sap automatically (as Palm Sap contains natural yeasts).

Kallu has to be consumed within a day of extracting from the tree, beyond which the drink becomes acidic and very sour tasting.

Fermented From: Palm sap
Alcohol Percentage: Low (Less than 10%)
Where To Get It: South India from street vendors selling toddy and government-regulated shops.

17- Chaang

traditional indian alcoholic drinks Glass of beer and barley rice
Chaang is an Indian beer made from rice or barley.

The Himalayan regions of North India and Nepal see different types of locally made beer available to keep the locals warm during cold weather.

One such strong beer made from millets, rice or barley is Chaang.

This drink is commonly known as the beer of the Himalayas due to its availability from Jammu and Kashmir and Nepal in the North of India to Sikkim and Assam in the North East.

Fermented From: Millets, Rice or Barley
Alcohol Percentage: Medium (10-25%)
Where To Get It: Himalayan regions. Branded products are locally made in breweries and local shops.

18- Lugdi

indian alcoholic drinks
There are some different types of Indian beer drunk in different states.

Lugdi is a popular alcoholic drink originating in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh.

This drink is a traditional rice beer made by fermenting soaked rice for many weeks.

This beer is ideally suited for consumption in cold weather and is generally available in Himalayan tourist destinations in North India.

The drink has also featured in a few films in Bollywood.

Fermented From: Rice or Barley
Alcohol Percentage: Low (Less Than 10%)
Where To Get It: Himachal Pradesh in restaurants, breweries and local shops.

19- Apong

The North Eastern part of India is home to beautiful countryside, towns and cities rich in culture.

Arunachal Pradesh, the easternmost state, is famous not only for its rich tribal culture and the Brahmaputra river but also for its popular fermented rice-based beer called Apong.

The beer is uniquely known to have medicinal qualities and is widely consumed in the region by local households along with their lunch or dinner.

The beer, once made only by local breweries, is now starting to be made commercially.

Fermented From: Rice
Alcohol Percentage: Low (Less Than 10%)
Where To Get It: North East, Arunachal Pradesh, in restaurants, breweries and local shops.

20- Mahua

indian drinks Big wine bottle sculpture made of cement displayed in the premises of Sula winery
India also has a growing wine industry like this winery in Nasik, Maharashtra. To start, try Indian flower wine or Mahua.

Mahua is a traditional Indian flower wine originating in Central India centuries ago.

This wine is made by fermenting the Mahua flowers, which are rich in sugar.

The Mahua tree has many other uses and is used by the tribal population for its edible and medicinal value.

This wine is one of the few spirits distilled from actual flowers.

This traditional Mahua wine is a must-have whenever you are travelling in India, and commercial interest in this wine is increasing given its uniqueness and popularity.

Fermented From: Mahua Flowers
Alcohol Percentage: Medium (10-25%)
Where To Get It: Central India. Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh in restaurants, breweries and shops.

21- Heritage Liqueurs of Rajasthan

When travelling to Rajasthan in India, don’t forget to try out the Heritage liqueurs made from recipes handed down by the Royal families who ruled parts of Rajasthan decades earlier and are now manufactured solely by the Government of Rajasthan.

What’s unique about these liqueurs is that they use a secret recipe with ingredients like saffron, dry fruits, herbs, nuts, seeds, roots, and spices mixed with milk and sugar and distilling them into alcohol.

These drinks have a strong following and are especially available for tourists travelling through Rajasthan.

Kesar Kasturi, Chandra Hass, Saunf, Jagmohan, Mawalin, and Elachi are some Heritage Liqueurs you should try whenever you travel through the region.

Fermented From: Recipes from Royal Breweries
Alcohol Percentage: Medium (10 to 25%)
Where To Get It: Rajasthan in restaurants and government shops.

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Vamsee Chandra lives in Hyderabad in India and is a financial markets trader by profession. An engineer with an MBA, he is a free-spirited traveller at heart. He has visited 17 countries on three different continents (Asia, Europe and North America) and has a personal target of visiting 50 countries before he retires. His favourite city is Paris, for its amazing museums and people. His favourite building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and his favourite countryside is the Bavarian region in Germany, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located.