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Panaka Punch

This post would have never occurred to me, had it not been for a recipe for panaka  I came across in Madhur Jaffrey's James Beard award winning book 'World Vegetarian' (p. 644) . Its hard to retire quietly at 1.15 am when you see something that is so much a part of ones life, listed as 'Extinct'. A death knell so loud, that I had to vent about it immediately!

The Hindu festival 'Ram navami' is celebrated in the month of April all over India. One of the traditional festive offerings in South Indian temples & households for this event is 'panakam', a refreshing punch like drink made with ginger, gud (jaggery) and lime & flavored with cardamom. A time honored tradition kept alive for the past 3000+ (yes, three thousand) years.

Ideally I should have thought about posting this delicious refreshing beverage in the height of summer, but hey... summer or fall, it makes for a great drink.The recipe varies from household to household, but the taste is singularly delicious.

Disclaimer: I have taken some creative liberties with the basic recipe ( marked with a *), but these substitutions do not deviate from the flavor profile significantly.

You need:
3-4 tsp brown sugar* or Gud/jaggery  (available in Indian Stores)
1 tsp powdered dry ginger
2-3 pods cardamom seeds crushed
Juice of 1/2 a lime
water  as required
or
2 oz water +  lime flavored seltzer water as required*
Ice cubes


Heat the  brown sugar (or gud) and 2 oz water in a microwave for about 30 s till dissolved. add powdered ginger and crushed cardamom & steep for about 5- 10 min. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime in a  tall glass filled with ice cubes and strain the  syrup into the glass.Add the remaining water or seltzer as preferred. Garnish with a slice of lime. Stir & serve chilled.

(For The boozy version follow this link or this one from Monica Bhide's website. )

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