Friday, April 20, 2012

Tangy Summer Coolers - Indian & Mexican

Now that summer is its full fury and cola and juice companies are making merry, its time that we make old fashioned summer coolers with an ingredient that is regularly available in majority of Indian homes : Tamarind. Tamarind is used in Ayurveda to aid digestion and is a coolant.Tamarind pulp is useful in treating fevers and even in curing sore throats. Remember the South Indian Rasam, is perfect while having fever.The list continues, but lets get back to today's post...

Jal Jeera :
I was under the belief that majorly South Indians used tamarind as a regular ingredient in their chuneys,gravies, rices etc, till I came across Jal Jeera. Ofcourse there are other ways to make jal jeera or minty cuminy cooler, but the one which I made using Nita Mehta's Punjabi cooking uses tamarind. I suppose if you do not have tamarind you can go for additional lemon juice, but traditionally it was a tamarind cumin cooler. I am posting the original recipe with the correct estimates for ingredients, but feel free to change as per your taste.

Ingredients:

Tamarind: 1 lemon size ball or around 1.5 tbsp of syrup
Lemon juice: 3-4 tsp 
Ginger: 1" piece
Mint: handful of fresh leaves: 3-4 tbsp around
Black Salt: 1/2 tsp 
Roasted and Powdered Cumin: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1 tbsp

Preparation:
Soak tamarind in 1 cup hot water for about 30 minutes. Extract the pulp and strain. If using tamarind syrup/ concentrate then just mix it with hot water.

Grind ginger and mint together with little water to a smooth paste and add to the tamarind water.Add around 2 -3 more cups of water to this along with the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Chill in the fridge and serve garnished with more mint leaves or boondis (light chickpea flour balls).

While making check the seasonings and salt as per taste and adjust. Cumin and black salt are the formost in asserting their flavour. Mint refreshes, and sugar slightly contrasts, but tangy tamarind and sharp tastes of cumin and black salt tickles your tongue and increases your appetite.


Agua de Tamarindo:
Again the surprise element here was that tamarind is widely used in parts of the world like Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago and even Mexico. Come summer and the fruit pulp is used to make drinks called agua frescas. But if our jal jeera was sweet and sour and spicy then this one made with tamarind is slightly sweeter. I have adapted my recipe from the umpteen sites google has thrown open and majorly this post which looks very mouthwatering.

Ingredients:
Tamarind: 1 lemon sized ball or 1.5 tbsp of concentrate/syrup
Brown Sugar/ Jaggery/ Mexican Piloncillo: 2tbsp /-

Preparation:
Add tamarind and sugar/piloncillo to about 2 cups of water and boil together for  few minutes till the sugr dissolves. Remove from heat and let it site for atleast 30 minutes.The more the merrier.

Extract the pulp by pressing the soft tamarind in water with your clean hands. Check for sweetness and add more sugar if needed. Strain and add more water if needed to reduce the intensity of tamarind.

Serve chilled adding ice cubes.

A delectable drink that cools you down after a nice workout or cooking in the hot kitchen.


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