Beverages

Spiked Pomegranate Ginger Slushie

A drink so perfect for the holidays, both with its gorgeous color and the flavors. Unsweetened pomegranate juice (you can press your own too for its pomegranate season) mixed with homemade ginger syrup. Ginger syrup is one the most warming things to have on the kitchen counter or in home bar at this time of the year. It is so simple to make and takes only a few minutes.

You can switch up the spirit depending on what you fancy, but vodka or gin pair quite well. However a touch of rum might go as well. This is one of my favorite things to make during holidays and sip on near the freplace. We dont have snowdays in Las Vegas but the temperatures can get quite chilly and this drink is just so warming for those days.

Recipe

Ginger Syup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sliced fresh ginger (you can leave the skin on if its organic)

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a slow boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes so that the flavor of ginger steeps. Switch the stove off and let stand until the syrup cools down. Strain into a container in store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. You can use the ginger in baking if you wish.

Pomegranate Ginger Slushie

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

  • 4 cups ice
  • 2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (not too tart, if you can blood oranges use those)
  • 1 cup ginger syrup
  • 1/3 cup Gin (or more if you wish)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate arils (to serve)

Method

Place all the ingredients in jar of a high speed blender. On smoothie mode or if your blender has a slushy side, pulse until the drink is slushy.

Pour into serving glasses, garnish with pomegranate arils or as you please.

Enjoy!

Beverages · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Aam Pana – Green Mango Drink

Sinfully Spicy - Aam Pana, Green Mango, Mint & Cardamom Drink #indianAs we drove to indian store a few weeks back, I told the husband “Oh I doubt they would have any more”, though secretly,I desired that they had ordered more of these chubby, tart green mangoes which are gateway to aroma and taste of indian summer into my little kitchen. I approached the mango carton first thing though I was there to stock up on green chilies, baby eggplants and curry leaves. I hurriedly tore the plastic bag and started my selection.”She’s a little too excited about them”, I overheard the husband telling the store keeper whose reply made me smile ear to ear,” Will be getting more in few days”.

Sinfully Spicy - Aam Pana, Green Mango, Mint & Cardamom Drink #indianThis summer has been rather good as far as seasonal produce goes. Except the blueberries which I climbing the price ladder each week, we are enjoying the bounty a lot. I bought squash and first cherries home over the weekend  but I am more happy that the supply of raw mangoes exported from India will continue in our local store. After pickling, adding them to lentils and chutneys, I also made this drink last week.

Sinfully Spicy - Aam Pana, Green Mango, Mint & Cardamom Drink #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Aam Pana, Green Mango, Mint & Cardamom Drink #indianWhile the raw mangoes were boiling and the cumin was slow roasting, I plucked up few leaves from my potted mint, tore them from the twigs, bathed them in the kitchen sink and set on the counter. My hands started to smell of the herb and a strong aroma filled up the nostrils only to be replaced a few moments later by the sweet-smelling cardamom as I broke open the pod. Suddenly, the kitchen was engulfed in the perfume of herbs and spices. I was at once transported to being a child again, drinking aam pana first thing from the jug in the refrigerator after getting back from school.

Sinfully Spicy - Aam Pana, Green Mango, Mint & Cardamom Drink #indianAam (mango) pana/panna is tart, sweet and spicy drink popular in India during the cruel summer months.The recipe is very simple and quick.You could roast or grill the mangoes for a smoky flavor instead of boiling them. Just keep in mind not to overdo the mint, cardamom or cumin since the pronounced taste has to be of the mango here.
Sinfully Spicy - Aam Pana, Green Mango, Mint & Cardamom Drink #indian

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

  • 5-6 green mangoes,unripe
  • (scant) pinch of hing (asafetida,optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar (can be increased to 1/2 cup or to taste)
  • 6-7 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 very small green chili (any mild variety will work)
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • 1/2 tsp (scant) roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt, adds tang but substitute with salt if you don’t have)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
  • Crushed ice, mint leaves to garnish

Method

Wash the mangoes and remove their tops, peel them. Place them in a pressure cooker along with hing and 2 cups of water.Close the lid and let cook on medium heat for 1-2 whistles. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can boil the mangoes in a pot till the flesh is soft. Take off the heat and let cool down till okay to touch.

Meanwhile, finely chop the mint leaves and green chili. You can seed the chili before chopping. Break open the cardamom pod and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle.

Once the mangoes have cooled a bit, add the sugar to the pot and using your hands squeeze the mangoes till all the flesh falls off and you get hold of the seeds. Discard the seeds and any tough membranes. Add finely chopped mint and chili and using your immersion blender, blend everything. Ideally, the consistency of pana is not smooth, there is mango flesh and bits of mint & chili suspended in the liquid.

Add the cardamom,cumin, kala namak, red chili powder. Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust the salt. Transfer the contents to a beverage holder or a jug and add top with water depending on how dilute you like it.

Chill thoroughly and serve with ice and mint leaves.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Beverages · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Gajar Kaanji – Fermented Carrot-Mustard Drink

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Kaanji, Fermented Carrot-Mustard DrinkYou do not realize the goodness associated with certain kinds of foods (and drinks) until you are of a certain age. I say this because no matter how pretty it looked, I don’t remember enjoying a glass of kanji back then.Now that I try to debate what to eat & what not to, guiltlessly gulping down this drink with the afternoon meals is a must.My container is nearing end but I am relishing it at least once a day for now.

I am not much of a beverage person, a glass of water with a lemon wedge is my treat,even when eating out.The very fact that this fermented drink does not have a speck of sugar or other usual suspects found in beverages makes it very unique and the crisp, tart flavor is truly an acquired taste. If you are a fan of pickles & mustard, this could be a treat for you in the liquid form. I would compare it to the taste of a mellow pickling liquid but with hints of spices – all of which are all actually so so good for you.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Kaanji, Fermented Carrot-Mustard DrinkThere is the star spice- the small brown mustard seeds,commonly know as rai in India, rich in omega-3 fatty acids & magnesium. Then the essential turmeric, best known for its anti inflammatory properties. Usually many don’t use it,but I add a pinch of ajwain (carom seeds) & methi dana (fenugreek seeds), both of which help in better digestion & metabolism. Additionally, fenugreek seeds help lower the blood sugars. To top it all, the sun fermentation for about a week or so further improves the nutritional value of this drink.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Kaanji, Fermented Carrot-Mustard Drink

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Kaanji, Fermented Carrot-Mustard DrinkKaanji is an end of winter, spring onset drink in northern parts of India, particularly Punjab. It is usually prepared during Holi, and served as a beverage.Normally, purple/black carrots are used which are available in abundance in India during February-March spring months but if you do not get those – use any kind of carrots & put in a few slices of beets for that lovely ruby color. Many recipes add turnip slices or alma (indian gooseberries) too – just to increase the nutritional value.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Kaanji, Fermented Carrot-Mustard DrinkSometimes, lentil nuggets (Kaanji Vada) are dunked in this sour liquid & served as a street side snack. The fluffy nuggets absorb all that liquid and turn deliciously spongy and soft to eat. Boondi ( Crispy chickpea flour drops) are what I topped my tumbler with, however you can serve it all on its own. The fermented carrots & beets can be eaten as pickles.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Kaanji, Fermented Carrot-Mustard Drink

Ingredients

  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 medium beetroot
  • 1.5 tbsp rai (small variety brown mustard seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp each ajwain (carom seeds) & methi (fenugreek seeds) (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with normal salt)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 cups water

Method

Sterlize a wide mouthed glass container large enough to contain 6 cups water with a non-reactive lid.

Thoroughly wash & peel the carrots and beetroot. Using a sharp knife, cut them into thin slices. You could cut them in rounds or batons, dosent matter, but the slices should not be very thick.

Bring water to a boil. While the water is boiling, using mortar & pestle, coarsely crush the mustard, ajwain & methi seeds. Place the sliced beet & carrots in the container. Add the crushed spices.Sprinkle turmeric, black salt & red chili powder on top.

When the water has boiled, take off the stove and let sit on counter top to cool down a bit. Add the hot water to the container and using a wooden spoon, stir the contents thoroughly. With another clean spoon, taste and adjust the salt. At this point the contents will taste bitter but all that will go away after fermentation.

Place the lid on the container and let sit in sun for 5-7 days. Stir 2-3 times a day with clean wooden spoon.Kaanji is ready when it starts tasting sour.The fermentation time will depend on sunlight in the place you live.

You can serve Kaanji at room temperature or chilled. Add boondi or dried mint leaves as garnish.

The fermented carrots & beets can be eaten as pickles. Kaanji can be stored for up to 2 weeks, refrigerated.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Beverages

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.