What a powerhouse herb Tulsi is, everyone should have a plant or at least dried leaves in their pantry. We have a few recipes featuring it, and today, another one. An iced tea for the hottest of weathers. We have 40C days in Summer, sometimes hotter, so our minds will be on cooling drinks for afternoons under the grapevines.
Kewra, an essence made from the flower of the Pandanus plant (also called Screwpine) has an unusual but pleasant taste. It is used to flavour rice, drinks, and desserts in Northern India and South East Asia. The floral fragrance gives a calming influence and is said to help in mental relaxation. Kewra also combines well with other flower waters such as rose water and orange blossom water, and they can be combined in any recipe that uses one or the other.
You can read more about Kewra and Pandanus here.
Today we flavour a Summer Cooler with Kewra. Such drinks are common in North India, combining the base flavour with water and lemon juice. We use the Kewra Water, but you can use also use Kewra essence. Just add a 1 or 2 drops per glass.
India knows how to deal with heat. They have it nailed. Their heat-beating weaponry includes: An infinite number of cooling drinks. Yoghurt dishes galore. Icecreams and cooling desserts. Fruits such as watermelon, musk melon, cucumbers, mangoes, coconuts, limes, fresh kokum. Sugar Cane Juice. Limca. Sweet Lime Soda. Coconut Water.
I saw a recipe for a Punjabi drink made from a roasted green mango and I was hooked. It is Mango Season here and we have an array of different types of sweet, sour, and sweet-sour mangoes. They are all easy to find in our Asian and S.E. Asian shops. This drink is slightly sour and slightly sweet, with a hint of cardamom (or cumin), Indian black salt (which is pink in colour) and black pepper. We make it from roasted green mango, but it can be made from boiled or steamed green mango. The taste is different, though. Roasting gives the drink a slightly smoky flavour.
You can get black salt from any Indian grocery. There isn’t any real substitute, but use sea salt or chaat masala if you can’t find black salt. Adjust the quantities accordingly.
Use any left over roasted mango (or roast 2 of them) to make Mango Rice.
It took me a long time to find the balance of flavours in Jal Jeera that suited me. Some attempts, carefully following recipes in some books picked up in India, were undrinkable. Knowing those books better now, they do tend to get ratios in their recipes out of balance. This recipe is a cracker and works well.
You do have to love your Indian spices though. Jal Jeera is a cooling Summery drink full of spices, with cumin and mint featuring. Do try it – it is a unusual drink for Western palates, but worth trying in hot weather if you do love spices.
Other cooling drinks you might enjoy are Iced Tulsi Tea, Watermelon, Lime, Ginger Soda, Kewra Sherbet, Mint and Lemon Verbena Iced Tea, Watermelon Juice with Mint and Ginger, Ginger Cooler, and Jeera Lassi.
This is a lovely Summer Drink of Indian origin. Panaka is an Indian Limeaide, sweet, tangy and very refreshing.