This post was last updated on March 28th, 2015 at 09:13 am
Amanda’s note: Here is another wonderful contribution from Ramya Venkateshwaran who writes from her home in India. Find her on her website WildTurmeric.net for more ideas on healthy living.
This jaljeera is a very popular North Indian summer drink that is a natural body coolant and it also one of the best drinks to help you maintain your overall health. Jaljeera is often sold by road side vendors during summer time in Northern India to aid tired travelers. It tastes wonderful, keeps the body hydrated, and it replenishes lost minerals very quickly during the summer.
Most of the traditional Indian drinks are packed with goodness and inexpensive to make. Jaljeera in no exception. Jal means “water” and jeera means “cumin seeds” — it is basically a cumin seed-based water. This drink is spicy, sour, sweet, and packed with minerals and nutrients. I love any thing sweet and sour and, if you are like me, then you will greatly enjoy this refreshing drink that is packed with all the goodness of nature. This recipe tastes so good that it instantly disappears, the minute I make it at home.
Jaljeera is also a good home remedy for indigestion. It is easy to treat indigestion in kids with jaljeera as they will drink it without making a fuss. To use it as a home remedy for indigestion, half cup of this drink can be had once in the morning and once in the evening. For children, 1/4 cup will work very well.
Each home has a different recipe for jaljeera. Some make it with tamarind and some make it with lemon juice. I prefer to add a little of both — they give the best taste and they both aid in digestion. Another important ingredient in jaljeera is is black salt — we call it “kala namak” in India. It is widely used in ayurvedic preparations and it is a great digestive aid. It is also rich in minerals and other vitals nutrients.
Though the ingredient list is a bit long, this drink can be stored well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Since it has tamarind and lemon juice, it does not spoil very quickly. The main flavor of this drink apart from the black salt is the roasted cumin seed powder. Roasted cumin seed powder has a unique flavor and it goes very well with this drink. Roasting the cumin seeds and powdering it in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder just before making this drink will give the best flavor to this drink.
This drink, if given to children immediately after their sports, replenishes lost fluids and minerals very quickly. Instead of store bought sports drink for your kids, try jaljeera next time.
To make the drink, collect fresh mint leaves and cilantro and squeeze some fresh lemon juice. Roast the cumin seeds and powder them finely. Blend the fresh herb leaves, tamarind paste, lemon, black salt, roasted cumin seed powder, unrefined brown sugar, and ginger to a fine paste with little water. Thin it down with chilled water and strain.
- 1/4 cup packed fresh mint and coriander leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
- 1 teaspoon black salt
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or a whole brown sugar like Rapadura)
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seed powder
- 1/2-inch piece of ginger
- One pinch of pepper or red chilli powder
- 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 cups of water
- Dry roast cumin seeds in a dry pan over medium to low heat until the seeds turn golden brown. Powder it to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle (or in a food processor).
- Place the fresh coriander and mint leaves in a mixer and add lemon juice, sugar, ginger, roasted cumin seed powder, black salt, tamarind paste, and pepper powder. Grind it to a fine paste along with 1/4 cup of water.
- Thin the mixture down down with 1 1/2 cups of chilled water, mix well, and strain. When diluting the ground mixture, add the chilled water 1/4 cup at a time and keep tasting the drink. If the sourness, sweetness, and spiciness is balanced, stop adding the water. You have to adjust the salt and sugar and lemon juice to your taste as it might vary from person to person.
Make sure to roast the cumin seeds well to get the best flavor. Take care in roasting. They are easy to burn.
This drink is best made with tamarind paste — try not to skip it.