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 thoughts on “Jal Jeera – Indian Tamarind & Cumin Cooler

  1. You have presented this simple dink in such a stunning manner Tanvi . Loved all the photographs. Especially the one of mint and the melting ice cubes 🙂

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. sreebindu – India – Welcome to my little space over here!An RJ by Profession and an amateur in phogography, with my new Canon. Irrevocably in love with it. Loves Music & a very good Listener too. This blog shares every emotion of me; I love everything which makes me happy in my life. For sure, am going to share every bit of it through “Me & Life” - To know more of me tune into my show some time week days on Radio Mirchi 98.3fm - www.radiomirchi.com/Visakhapatnam.
    sreebindu116 on said:

    Count me in for a glass 🙂 Gorgeous pictures.

  5. Angie@Angie's Recipes – Angie's Recipes is an interactive blog dedicated to sharing yummy & creative recipes, helpful cooking hints and tips. Enjoy your visit and spread the word!
    Angie@Angie's Recipes on said:

    Don’t think I have ever had a Jal Jeera…looks very tasty.

  6. Sawsan Abu Farha @ Chef in disguise – Http://chefindisguise.com – In love with the Middle Eastern culture and cuisine. Sharing easy authentic Middle Eastern recipes is my passion
    Sawsan@ Chef in disguise on said:

    My mum makes a sweet tamarind drink with rosewater. Love all the flavors you have in your drink.
    If it is any help my husband is exactly the same..it amazes me sometimes how much juice he can drink with zero worry

  7. 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.

  8. The first photo alone is enough to make anyone thirsty!! You’ve done such a great job of styling it. Seriously – Brilliant!

  9. Lubna Karim – Chennai, India – Lubna Karim, the face behind ‘Yummy Food’. A science student turned into a management graduate finally ending up in the kitchen, experimenting and experiencing the joys of cooking…..along with enjoying her mommyhood being mom to a cute girl...
    Lubna Karim on said:

    You made it look drool worthy……i love that spicy and sweet touch in the recipe….

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

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  13. 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!!

  14. Faith (An Edible Mosaic) – I’m Faith and I blog at www.AnEdibleMosaic.com where I share my recipe collection of international favorites and updated American classics, with an emphasis on seasonal dishes. I focus on real foods that sustain body and mind, bring people together, and make a house a home. Come check out my mosaic of recipes.
    Faith on said:

    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!

  15. I always adore Jaljeera, fortunately I have my favorite restaurant here in Bali whom serves BEST Jaljeera. Your photos absolutely gorgeous! and the drink looks so refreshing

  16. Jean – Since 1992, Jean has been a regular cyclist in Toronto and as of 2002, in Vancouver. She has cycled in parts of Canada, U.S. and Europe. She knows many regular cyclists who have discovered the key to good health, youthfulness and fun. She is occasionally blogmaster for Third Wave Cycling Group where you can see a fuller profile and also for the <a href="http://www.velo-city2012blog.com">Velo-city Global 2012 Cycling Conference Blog (Vancouver, BC).</a> Her personal blog: http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com
    Jean on said:

    Very different because of the cumin flavour for a drink.

  17. 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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