Bombay Lemonade/Nimbu Paani/Shikanji


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

Summer days were hot in Bombay (Mumbai), but I eagerly awaited 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 looked forward to: my moment to indulge in street snacks. I’d get a little pocket money daily from my mother, which I would diligently invest in snacks. The choices were many, and my desires were 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.

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 make this drink less sweet but feel free to play around. Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Bombay Lemonade/Nimbu Paani/Shikanji

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

No reviews

Nimbu Paani, Shikanji, or, as I like to call it, Bombay Lemonade, is one of my favorite summer drinks. Typically made with green limes in India, it’s also a spectacular drink with lemons (try Meyer lemons in the recipe for a different aroma). Sweet and sour with a smoky, spicy, and citrusy flavor will quench your summer thirst and keep you coming back for more.

  • Yield: 4


1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp kala namak

1/4 tsp chaat masala

1/2 cup/120 ml fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup/50 g/60 ml sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, or molasses

4 cups/945 ml chilled water

8 to 10 fresh mint leaves

2 large lemons, thinly sliced, seeds discarded

ice cubes to serve

extra toasted cumin seeds to garnish (optional)


  1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from heat and transfer to a mortar and pestle; leave to cool to room temperature, and then pound to make a powder. Add the toasted cumin seeds, kala namak, and chaat masala to a large pitcher.
  2. Add the lemon juice, ginger, sugar, and water.
  3. Stack the mint leaves and slice them into thin strips with a sharp knife. Add the mint to the pitcher. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust sweetness as needed. Add the lemon slices. Serve chilled over ice. This drink can be made at least 2 hours in advance. You can garnish the drink with a tiny pinch of toasted cumin seeds. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but the mint leaves should be removed as they will turn black over time. Add fresh mint leaves before serving.


  • Limes are also fantastic here (the traditional ingredient used in India).
  • I’ve listed all the different sweeteners in the recipe; use what you prefer and adjust the amount according to your taste.
  • Toast the cumin seeds for the garnish, just like in step 1 of this recipe. It is optional.

14 Responses

  1. Beautiful! Nimbu paani is so much fresh and better tasting than those cloyingly sweet lemonades out there.
    Nik,that picture of mint & lemons- another one which I would love to hang in my kitchen 🙂

  2. The flavors in this sound incredible Nik! I love reading how fresh your family's recipe is…. here in the states as kids, our summers were filled with pink powdered lemonade. My how things are different!

  3. This lemonade looks so refreshing! Love the spices in it and the story behind it. Great post as always, Nik.

  4. Your pictures are, as always, gorgeous! Can't wait to make this. We're always looking for ways to spruce up lemonade.

  5. This is just exactly what we have it here in Mumbai. Bombay lemonade is looking so tasty.

  6. Just looking at these photos is making me so happy! Such beauty, Nik! You are so talented. Looking forward to trying this gorgeous lemonade.

  7. Ohhh this brings back memories! I can't wait till it's summer again here so I can try this 🙂

  8. this is glammed up lemonade! I miss it too – both the sugarcane juice and lemonade. Bombay was so fun, I miss it.

  9. I love fresh squeezed lemonade. What a wonderful version. I can't wait to try it. Hey now that you are an adult you can read comics any time you want. But do you still want to? That was me and movie magazines. Of course now I could care less.

  10. I love recipes that take root from a childhood memory; taste has a marvelous way of transporting us through time and space. 🙂

    Your lemon photos are amazing!! I could spend all day gazing at lemon pics (and pancakes!). Lush recipe too, it's finally warm enough to appreciate a refreshing glass of lemonade. Thanks for sharing. xo

  11. you were such an enterprising kid, planning ahead what to purchase etc!

    the use of cumin seed is really interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read the Privacy Policy for more details.

Order your copy of the best-selling James Beard nominated cookbook, The Flavor Equation.