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Jal Jeera – Indian Tamarind & Cumin Cooler


Whats your favorite beverage? I m not much of a beverage person, but am always up fresh fruit & vegetable juices as well as a couple of homemade coolers make it to my list.I distance myself from store-bought beverages, unconsciously.

He doesnt care much – his HUMONGOUS liking for beverages is oblivious of the concept of homemade or store bought.As I write this, our refrigerator is stocked with all sorts of flavored lemonades, coconut water, mango nectar & weird-looking smoothies. I m not joking. This is pretty much the same all round the year – he drinks more than he eats – I seldom tell him. Needless to say refrigerator space is one eternal bone of contention between us.

Jal Jeera is an essential north indian summer beverage, served as a refresher with meals.You will find a lot of street vendors serving chilled jal jeera stored in earthern pots sitting atop their decorated carts in India. It is another show stopper of indian street food scene. I just can’t imagine rounding up summers without it.

My mom makes a mean jal jeera from scratch. She does not use any pre made spice powders, its a a crisp concoction of fresh made tamarind pulp water (jal) & roasted cumin (jeera) flavored with mint, black salt, green chillies & ginger. Each ingredient plays a role – tamarind & mint have cooling properties, cumin & black salt aid in digestion & chillies provide the essential kick. Many people use fresh lemon juice instead of tamarind pulp in their preparation and skip sugar.

There is no written recipe, like most indian moms. It is even pointless to ask for one for all I will get is how many palm fulls and pinches. I have come up with this recipe from memories of taste of her jal jeera. Hers will always be the best though.

Indian Tamarind is quite sharp & fibrous in taste as compared to the Thai variety. You need to soak it for few hours in water & mash to separate seeds & fibre to extract the pulp.Tangy & smoky in taste, jal jeera is usually topped with boondi – puffed, crispy chickpea flour balls (available in indian stores) & crushed ice.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 6-8 Servings)

  • 1 cup tamarind pulp (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp roasted jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 18-20 fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 1 serrano chilli (de- seeded , if desired)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3″ fresh ginger shoot, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Table salt (to adjust)
  • 5 cups water, cold
  • To Garnish – crushed ice, boondi, mint leaves (optional)

Method :-

Tip everything except table salt & water into your blender. Blend on low for 2-3 minutes until you get a semi smooth mixture. Dont make a very smooth paste.

Place a colander over a large bowl & sieve the paste through it. Note – I sieve the paste a couple of times to obtain a clear(er) drink. Place the collected paste into a jug, top with 5 cups of water. Adjust the salt.Chill till ready to serve.

Before serving, stir thoroughly, pour into glasses, garnish & serve.

Jal Jeera keeps fresh for 3-4 days, refrigerated. It can also be served as pani for indian street food- pani puri. 

Notes :-

  1. To see how to extract tamarind pulp at home, click here.
  2. Store bought tamarind paste can also be used in this recipe. The paste is more concentrated and way salty compared to home extracted version.Adjust the quantity to your liking.
  3. You can substitute tamarind pulp with fresh lime/ lemon juice. The taste differs from traditional recipe but still good.
  4. Place cumin seeds in a sauce pan and roast over medium heat.

40 replies on “Jal Jeera – Indian Tamarind & Cumin Cooler”

lovely pics tanvi. jaljeera is a my fav drink. i too prefer it sweet sour spicy and especially stuffed in with some boiled chickpeas or mung sprouts in golgappas 🙂

What a gorgeous photography… I’ve tried Thai/Vietnamese Tamarind but not Indian kind. I’d love to try Jal Jeera. Your post successfully made me thirsty for this beautiful & delicious drink, Tanvi! 😉

Thanks Nami. You are always so kind. Its perfect for summers.I LOVE snacking on thai tamarind. I think you should try indian tamarind..I like the extra sharp note it has.

This sounds absolutely thirst quenching, even in this cold winter weather we’re having! I’m hosting a surprise baby shower for my sister in the US in a few weeks, when we head back for our wedding. I’m thinking this might be just the ticket or our drinks list – something so refreshing and different for Northern hemisohere summer! Also, your photos are so inspired as always.

I will be brave and try this drink this summer, I normally mix grapefruit or pomegranate juice with mineral water and call it a summer drink. This is a tad bit more complicated but definitely worth the try 🙂

The first pic is such a killer! I’m sure the moment anyone sees it, they’ll want to have drink it immediately. I’m surely going to make it. Thanks so much for the recipe!

A perfect summer drink! You’d see small kids selling jal-jeera at the bus stands in India – what a relief it used to be from that scorching heat. I love your photography!!

Tamarind is one of my favorite juices when I want a refreshing drink…I bet I’d love this version with all the spices! Absolutely stunning photos, Tanvi!

What an exciting summer drink! I have to tell Mark about this. Well, he is also the drink guy, so I bet he will jump up the seat to give this recipe a try once he sees it. I just love how you play with the ingredients and keep the taste in balance.

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