When summer comes along, we all reach for anything that will help us to cool down. From our favourite ice cream to nimbu pani, anything is welcome to help beat the heat and prevent dehydration.
A tad more complex cousin to nimbu pani (lime juice), Shikanji is the other summer favourite, and its base ingredients are diluted lemon juice, sugar and salt in water. Shikanji also uses a dash of spice, mint and some ginger juice for that tart flavour to come through.
Food lore has it that Shikanji sees its origin in Persia and was popular among Persian royalty as a summer coolant. So Shikanji has been one of the more popular summer drinks that hark back to a bygone era.
The inclusion of rock salt aids sodium intake along with minerals. This concoction aids in the functioning of the body’s muscles, and alongside, it improves electrolyte levels.
A glass of Shikanji is excellent at reigning in muscle cramps that are common occurrences courtesy of Indian summers by replenishing the water and minerals one loses through sweat. If you are in a humid region, a chilled glass of Shikanji works like an energy drink, instantly getting to work and cooling the body down.
Shikanji Broken Down:
The thing about lemony drinks like Shikanji is their ability to allow one to take in more spices as the presence of lemon extract and water mellows down the effect of the pungent spices, which otherwise would have been hard to digest.
Water is the traditional medium that works to combine these disparate elements and create a pleasing palate flavour. Aside from that, it also works to ease digestion and absorption of food into the body. Despite lemon, an ingredient in Shikanji, being an acidic element, it helps reduce acid reflux while at the same time supplying a healthy dose of Vitamin C.
Ginger and Cumin used in making this healthy concoction help warm the body. Working in unison, all these ingredients provide an anti-inflammatory response within the body.
The most essential attribute of Shikanji is that it aids the stomach in creating a digestive bubble that aids in breaking down complex foods, particularly the proteins present in meat. The lemon used in Shikanji helps break down proteins aiding enzymes in the body to do their digestive work faster and easier.
Five Other Summer Drinks To Beat The Heat:
Aside from the very popular Shikanji, we are sharing with you some other equally effective and popular ways to tame the Indian summer!
The sweltering heat can make us feel dizzy and drains us of all our energy. To hit back, let us share the many healthy summer drinks options and how to make them without any further ado:
Aam Panna is a favourite among summer drinks for those who like yet-to-ripen mangoes that have a distinctive green colour.
- Cook some green mangoes and allow them to cool.
- Blend with fresh mint leaves, black rock salt, roasted cumin powder and sugar to make a smooth paste.
- Add some ice cubes and a portion of the concentrate to a tall glass and mix it with water.
- Amma Panna is known to prevent heatstroke, aid digestion and keeps stomach-related woes at bay.
Chass uses yoghurt just as lassi does and is a ready favourite among summer drinks.
- Pour some yoghurt, green chilli and ginger paste, black salt, fresh mint leaves and cumin powder.
- Whisk the mixture well. When done, add water and some ice. Serve chilled.
- It soothes the digestive system, and when consuming it, the body is awash with a cooling effect.
- Chaas aids the body by removing toxins and preventing dehydration too.
Jaljeera is the perfect pre-meal digestive drink as it helps to stimulate the digestive system. It is one of the many summer drinks that use mango as an ingredient.
- Blend some fresh mint leaves, fresh coriander leaves, ½ inch ginger, and ½ cup water.
- To the blend, add lime juice, dry mango powder, asafoetida, roasted cumin powder, black salt, black pepper, and sugar.
- Pour some water and stir well. Let the blend cool for a couple of hours, and then serve.
- Jaljeera has a positive effect on digestion along with a cooling effect on the body.
Lassi is one of the many popular summer drinks and a good thirst quencher.
- Add some plain yoghurt to a large bowl. Make sure it isn’t sour. Mix it well with a wire whisk until smooth.
- Add some sugar to taste. The quantity will depend on the sourness of the yoghurt.
- Pick up the wire whisk and mix it well until the sugar is blended well with the yoghurt.
- Adding some water will help thin out the lassi a bit. The amount of water added depends on the consistency of lassi you prefer. If you like it thicker, 1/2 cup of water would do. For thinner lassi, you can add 1 cup of water.
- Now blend everything using an immersion blender.
- Now you can add some cardamom powder, a few saffron strands and some rose water and a few saffron strands.
- Once again, using your immersion blender, blend it all until your glass of frothy lassi is all done and good to enjoy.
- Top with saffron strands and crushed pistachios, and serve.
- Lassi helps soothe the digestive tract and is an excellent drink after a heavy meal. Being rich in proteins, it also helps in strengthing and building muscle.
Ganne Ka Ras (Raw Sugar Cane Juice):
Ganne Ka Ras is raw sugarcane juice that also uses lemon, and ginger as ingredients. It’s a very popular summer drink in India and is a healthy alternative to carbonated drinks. It's perfect for summer as it keeps you hydrated.
How to make Sugarcane Juice:
- The juice is extracted using a sugarcane machine.
- Ginger and lime may be added for taste.
- Best served chilled or over ice.
- Mint leaves or black salt can be sprinkled for enhancing the flavour.
The process of making Shikanji can be made easy by either purchasing or making your own Shikanji masala which is relatively easy to make.
Steps to Make Homemade Shikanji Masala:
- Proceed to dry roast three tablespoons of cumin in a pan on low flame until the cumin turns aromatic.
- Next, add two teaspoons of pepper, five pods of cardamom and 1-inch dry ginger.
- Let it cool, and then transfer it to the mixer jar.
- Into this mix, add one tablespoon of black salt and one teaspoon of regular salt.
- Once ground to a fine powder-like texture, your shikanji masala is ready to use.
Shikanji masala or Shikanji powder is a handy thing to have in your kitchen to use anytime you need to. No matter the Shikanji recipe you choose to make, the readymade powder will help ease the task and is one of the tasty and healthy summer drinks you could indulge in.
These are just a few of the virtues that have earned the lemon drink its envious reputation in the canon of medicine, which recommends that it be consumed before meals to aid digestion. Research has found that Shikanji, when consumed in moderate quantities, is helpful for people afflicted with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.