A glass of chilled Jaljeera on a hot summer day is very refreshing. It is a traditional Indian summer drink with health benefits. Jal jeera literally means ‘cumin water’ but there are more cooling ingredients than just roasted and powdered cumin in it.
The unique flavour in the jaljeera powder is an amalgamation of spices like roasted cumin, amchur(mango powder) and black salt are ground to a fine powder and added to a paste of fresh mint and coriander leaves. Fresh mint and coriander leaves give it an invigorating fragrance and flavour. Traditionally, tamarind is used to make jaljeera but I prefer fresh lemon juice.
This summer cooler is minty and flavorful, a little bit tangy too. In North India, it is served as a digestive drink too. In Delhi, during summer there are vendors selling jaljeera in earthen pots and they have bunches of flavorful fresh mint and lemon wedges over the top. I am always tempted to drink a glass or two from them. Have you sniffed roasted cumin or jeera? I just love the aroma and combined with mint, another of my favourite; it makes for a flavorful drink indeed.
The best thing is diabetics who cannot have sweetened drinks can drink this in summer without adding sugar. I make a bottle of this powder and drink this natural summer drink of India every other day. This lovely tangy energizing drink is an ideal appetiser.
Recipe for Jal Jeera
2 tsp Cumin Seeds roasted
1 tsp Amchur or dry mango powder
2 lemon slices for garnish
2 tbsp Fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon Fresh coriander leaves
Lemon juice 2 tablespoons
Ice cubes as required
Soda 1/2 litre optional
½ tsp black salt or normal salt
Pinch of sugar…optional
Pound the cumin seeds, black salt and amchur in a mixer or manually in a mortar with pestle. I have a lovely mortar and it pounds really easily. As for cumin powder, I follow my mom’s method. Just place the roasted hot cumin or jeera on the counter top and roll the rolling pin over it a couple of times and you get the best powder and the aroma floats in the air.
Grind the mint and coriander leaves with a little water into a smooth paste. Transfer into a bowl and add lemon juice and pounded masala, salt and water. Mix well and strain the mixture.
Put ice cubes in a tall glass. Add a cup of the jaljeera concentrate and top it up with soda or chilled water.
Serve Jaljeera immediately, garnished with a slice of lemon, mint or even a little grated raw mango.