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JAMUN KALA KHATTA (Sweet, Sour & Spicy Java Plum Drink)



Our neighbours used to have this huge Jamun tree in my home town and its variety was absolutely fabulous. The sweet & tangy juicy fruit had a tiny stone inside, surrounded by plump flesh. Their daughter and I used to be friends and her Mum used to send a bowl full of these plump purplish plums. I used to beg to my Mum to have a Jamun tree at our house as well but she would out rightly refuse. “The tree makes a lot of mess. It sheds so much leaves and when the ripe fruits will fall off from the tree, they will stain the courtyard,” she would reason. No amount of reasoning, cajoling or pleading worked with Mum. And thus we never had a jamun tree. During the season, it is common to see vendors sitting in the lanes of Lutyen’s Delhi selling this fruit, which is actually in abundance and not as expensive as it is here.

The Jamun or the Java Plum, or the Black Plum as it is called by some, is a sweet sour fruit that has an astringent after taste. I used to enjoy it as a kid but now I don’t as much. But it is my better half’s favourite seasonal fruit. (Read about the benefits of this fruit here.) A few months back I saw the pharmacist near my house, selling Jamun juice along with many other varieties of interesting juices, such as the aloe vera juice, basil juice, neem leaves juice, etc. On an impulse, I purchased the jamun juice for my husband but we discovered it was pretty awful in taste. Since then I have been waiting for this fruit to makes its way in to the market so I could make fresh batch at home. I have spiked the sharbat with some green chillies and I love the way it tastes; fabulous with just that hint of chili. Enjoy!


½ kg Jamun / Jambal

½ Cups Caster Sugar

1¼ Cup Orange Juice (optional)

As per taste – Kala Namak (Black Salt / Rock Salt)

As per taste – Cumin Powder (roasted and ground)

6 – 7 or as per taste and heat – Whole Green Chilies

3 tbsp Lime Juice (+ / -)

Plenty of Ice Cubes


Slightly crushed green chilies, deseeded (I used a mortar and pestle) – Optional


Wash the jamuns well and drain any excess water. Transfer the jamuns in a non-reactive pot or a glass mixing bowl and sprinkle caster sugar. Now with clean dry hands, roughly squish the jamuns and allow them to macerate for about 3 – 4 hours.

Mash the jamun sugar mix with clean hends and remove all stones. Puree this mixture (I was able to procure approximately 300 mls or somewhat thick puree).

For making the sharbat, I added orange juice to the puree (to cut through the astringent taste of the jamuns) and rest I added water to take the total amount of liquids to approximately 1100 mls. Then I passed this mix, first, through a regular sieve and then a fine sieve.

Add lime juice, black rock salt, cumin powder and green chilies. Adjust flavors and (add sugar only if required) Pour in the pitcher and allow the drink to sit for an hour or so for the chili flavors to assimilate into the drink.

Stir the sharbat well before serving. Add sliced oranges and lemons in the serving glasses along with half sliced chili and add ice. Top with the jamun sharbat and serve.


Note: Although it is totally a matter of preference and taste but I recommend that you be generous with the amount of lime juice and black rock salt since they are the key ingredients/ soul of this drink.

Note: Feel free to swap the orange juice with regular water.

Note: Using orange juice helped reduce the amount of sugar since I didn’t need to add any extra apart from the half a cup I had used to macerate the fruit.

Note: If you are not using orange juice, you may need to add extra sugar to the drink.

Note: Instead of using water, you can use sparkling water or drinking soda.

Note: I lined the rims of the glass with a mix of caster sugar and black rock salt.

Yield: Makes a little more than a litre


Try these natural coolers,

Pineapple Jal Jeera (Fruity Tamarind & Cumin Water)

Aam Panna (Raw Green Mango Cooler)

Lemonade Concentrate

Pom Limeade (Pomegranate & Lime Juice Cooler)

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MASALA DOODH / मसाला दूध (Milk w/ Nutty Spice Mix)



As the winters arrive, one sees a deluge of hot chocolate mix and cocoa mix recipes. I would be dishonest if I say I wasn’t tempted to join the craze and share my version of hot chocolate mix. But then I turned to sharing a traditional gem – an Indian spice mix that is aromatic and loaded with health benefits (I can’t believe I missed sharing this earlier). It is easy to make and really handy when you are in a mood for a glass of hot milk to wind up for the day. Along with imparting flavour to the milk, the various spices in the mix provide many benefits to help keep the winter ailments at bay; you could call it preventive and therapeutic. Making this mix is almost effortless and makes for a wonderful exotic edible homemade gift.

Milk and I share a love-hate relationship. It was made an obligatory part of my diet, namely the breakfast, when I was a kid. “Love it or hate, you have to drink it” was the deal that I was given. I still have not developed a taste for milk yet I can’t imagine a day without it. It is as if I miss something important in my diet and I don’t feel satiated until I have had it for my breakfast. However, that said, I love milk products such as Yogurt, Kheer (Indian rice pudding), Lassi, Buttermilk and of course ice creams!! The picky eater that I was once, I never said no to yogurt. I would have it for all three meals. Same was the case with buttermilk. I preferred the last serving of buttermilk coz that was full of rich creaminess. But, I still need something in my glass of milk to make it taste good.

The only time I used to love having milk was when we used to visit the Ashram. Service to all was one of the five key and essential tenets of our Gurudev and therefore during the three-day congregation, that is still held once every year, langar (free community kitchen that serves rich and poor followers/visitors alike) is an integral part of the sewa (service to others). These days however, in an effort to prevent people from wasting food, a token amount of rupee 1 is charged for tea and rupee 5 for a glass full of pure creamy milk flavoured with spices. The milk, procured from the village dairies around ashram, is rich and pure and tastes nothing like any other I have ever tasted. It is simmered along with spices and served piping hot in mornings and evenings. Seeing me polish a whole glass of that flavoured milk, my mother started making it at home as well especially during winters. The reason why I used to love that milk was obviously the spices that masked the natural taste of milk and made it super delicious.


½ C Almonds

1/3 C Pistachios

¼ C Cashews

3 – 4 tbsp Sugar (adjust sweetness)

¾ – 1 tsp powdered Cardamom seeds

¼ tsp Saffron strands (crushed)

1 tsp Dry Ginger Powder

1 tsp Black Pepper Corns (I like that little pepper hit in the milk but feel free to reduce it to ½ tsp)

¾ tsp Turmeric Powder

Lightly toast the nuts on medium low heat in a pan, shuffling them around so that they do not brown or burn. Switch off the heat and place the nuts on a plate and allow them to cool. In a spice grinder or a mixer-grinder, pulse the contents for 5 seconds and then give a break. Then pulse again for a few seconds and then again stop. (This will prevent the nuts from releasing too much oil) Repeat this process till the contents are almost powdered. Transfer the powdered mix in a clean dry bottle or jar and store refrigerated.


Serving Suggestion: 1 – 2 tsp for a glass of hot milk. (adjust to taste)

Note: Those allergic to nuts can swap nuts with seeds – sunflower seeds, sesame, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, etc (using ration of your preference). Although I have never tried making this mix using seeds, it might lack the richness provided by the nuts.

Note: Black pepper in milk may sound outlandish but I vehemently recommend using it. Ditto for turmeric.

Note: I usually simmer the spice mix with the milk (stirring it so it does not stick to the bottom) to steep the flavors. You can add the mix to the hot milk and allow it to sit for a minute or two to let the flavors steep.

Note: Feel free to adjust the ratio of ingredients in the mix to your preference.

Note: This works well with any non-dairy milk such as almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk.

Note: You need to ensure that you keep this mix at a cool dry place. I would recommend refrigeratation it and it will keep well for approximately a month or so. I prefer making small batches that are consumed well within a month.

Note: Always use a dry spoon each time you scoop out the mix else the contents will spoil due to moisture.


Check out these posts for some more Home-made Edible Gift Ideas…

Garam Masala (Aromatic Indian Spice Blend)

Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Spice Mix)

Desi Ghee (Clarified Butter)

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Summer has taken the weather in its firm grip and the focus has clearly shifted to coolers and salads. The summer this time around has been intense and had arrived much earlier than we had anticipated. Thankfully the evenings are pleasant and breezy. I have been trying to spend as less time in the kitchen as possiblecooking easy and mild & light curries, dishing up salads and grilled food. Well, till the time a machine is designed to control weather conditions, let’s keep indulging ourselves and enjoying yummy coolers to alleviate some of that discomforting heat and humidity.
We are looking ahead at nearly two and half months of bearing with this kind of hot & sultry weather before the monsoon arrives in mid-June bringing huge relief.  Until then, I have to ensure that I keep my family satiated with a variety of coolers to help them beat the heat. Apart from that, it is also time to upload something new; beyond the Lemonade and the Aam Pannatime for another cheers to good health J
I absolutely love beverages that are packed with goodness of nature and help the body in ways beyond just quenching the thirst. Jal Jeera is one such thirst quencher that serves the purpose of an appetizer by pepping up appetite left depressed by the heat and also that of being a digestive. 
Jal in Hindi language means water and Jeera is Hindi for Cumin Seeds. Literal translation of Jal Jeera is cumin water but in go plenty of other spices and mint that make Jal Jeera beyond just cumin water. It is tangy, minty, spicy, pungentin fact it has so much going on in there that one needs to experience it at least once. And once, my friends, is enough to get you hooked on to it!
But I am not too comfortable with tangy/ sour foods; Jal Jeera especially is meant to be rather quite tangy. When dealing with sour foods or beverages, I like to either reduce the souring agents in a particular food or add something sweet here and there to cut through the sourness. For the tangy and sour jal jeera, pineapples seemed like the right thing, with their natural fructose. 
Just like for any beverage, feel free to reduce or enhance sourness/ sweetness. In case you want to omit using pineapple juice, swap it with water. You can even use sparkling water instead of water to perk up the Jal Jeera. Only one tip here, do not be tempted to use more mint than mentioned in the recipe, else the jal jeera will turn bitter. (I made that mistake once) 

Here is the ratio of ingredients that I like to use,

1½ tbsp. Cumin Seeds (dry roasted)

¼ tsp Dry Mint Powder
½ tsp Degi Mirch (I think Paprika should work well)
8-10 Black Peppercorns, crushed
1 pinch Asafoetida (Heeng)
½ tsp Amchur (Dried & powdered raw green mangoes- easily available at Indian stores)
½ tsp Black Salt (Kala Namak)
½ tsp regular Salt or Sea Salt
1 tbsp concentrated Tamarind
1-1½ tbsp Mint Leaves
1 tbsp Cilantro leaves (Fresh Coriander)
1 tbsp sugar (adjust in case you intend to not use pineapple juice)
Medium sized Pineapple (I could procure a little more than a cup of juice)
Water/ Sparkling water
Boondi to serve, optional (Tiny round puffed chick pea flour fritter balls. Available at Indian stores)
Wash mint leaves and cilantro leaves and keep aside.
Peel & slice pineapple. Using a juicer, extract juice and strain it twice to procure clear pineapple juice.
Grind the dry spices using a spice grinder and then add the tamarind paste, mint leaves and cilantro leaves. Using 3-4 tbsp of water, make a fine paste. Strain the paste twice so you have a clear concentrated paste. (I used a regular sieve for the first straining and a finely meshed one for the second) Transfer this to a pot or jug.
In a measuring jar, add the pineapple juice and top the rest with water so that you have a total amount of 650 ml (approx) of liquid. Add sugar and stir well to dissolve. Pour this liquid in the concentrated paste and stir well. Jal Jeera is ready; chill it and sprinkle boondi before serving.
Please do not forget to check the notes given below
Note: Turn off the heat after roasting the cumin seeds and while the skillet is still hot, add a pinch of asafoetida and roast it for no  more than 4-5 seconds in the residual heat. This will help reduce the strong pungent taste of asafoetida. 
Note: I used freshly squeezed pineapple juice. In case you intend use store brought one, which might be much sweeter, you may need to omit sugar/ adjust the sourness. 
Note: I recommend not adding ice cubes to the Jal Jeera since it will mellow down the flavors. Instead, chill the Jal Jeera in the refrigerator. And do not forget to stir it well before serving. 

Serves 2-3
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