Summer days were hot in Bombay (Mumbai) but I eagerly awaited for their arrival because it meant the end of the school year. The days would be marked by pool time, trips, and reading a whole lot of comics (my mother would only let us read comics during the holidays, they’d go up otherwise so we could focus on the school year, though I don’t think it did any good!). There was also one particular portion of the day that I really looked forward to, my moment to indulge in street snacks. I’d get a little pocket money, every day from my mother which I would diligently invest in some sort of snack. The choices were many and my desires generally larger than my actual ability to consume so I’d have to plan my week out such that I’d be able to taste almost everything summer had to offer.
Since the weather got pretty hot, it was necessary to cool down with something cold. My cooling agents were generally tall glasses of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice , limeades or lemonades, each of these babies would be flavored with a combination of spices and fresh herbs making the the perfect thirst quencher and refresher.
I’ve made my version of my favorite lemonade that reminds me of those happy summer days spent in Bombay. Fresh is the key here, fresh lemons and ginger with mint are infused into chilled water while lightly crushed toasted cumin gives a hint of earthiness to the drink. If you aren’t a fan of fresh ginger, skip it. I also used molasses as the sweetener because M’s mom makes her own on the farm from her sugarcane crop every year and it is the best and she keeps me stocked.
This lemonade is best drunk as soon as it is made as I’ve noticed the flavors of the cumin and ginger are lost within a few hours. Also, fresh mint tends to darken after several hours. I tend to make this drink less sweet but feel free to play around. Have a wonderful weekend, friends!
Here are some of my favorite reads from this week;
yields: 4 servings
1/2 cup lemon juice (two large lemons), freshly squeezed
3 inch piece ginger root, freshly peeled
900ml chilled water
3-4 tablespoons light molasses
8-10 mint leaves, fresh
8 thin lemon slices, freshly cut
ice cubes and a few thin slices of fresh lemons
1. Toast the cumin seeds on medium high flame in a small saucepan for about 15 seconds until they just begin to turn brown. The cumin seeds are ready as soon as you can smell their aroma. Immediately transfer them into a mortar and crush them gently once with the pestle. Don’t over crush them. If the cumin seeds burn during the toasting and turn black, discard and start again.
2. Add the toasted cumin seeds along with the lemon juice into a large pitcher.
3. Place the ginger root in the mortar and crush it with 1/4 cup of the chilled water to form a slurry and extract the ginger flavor. Pass the slurry through a tea strainer or small sieve over a small bowl and press the pulp with a spoon to get all the juice out. Transfer the extracted juice to the pitcher along with the molasses.
4. Stack the mint leaves over each other and then slice them into thin strips with sharp knife. Put the mint leaves in the pitcher and add the rest of the chilled water. Stir to combine the ingredients, taste to make sure the lemonade is sweet enough, if not add more molasses. Add the slices of lemon and stir. To serve, stir the contents of the pitcher and then pour into chilled glasses containing ice cubes.