This simple summer beverage combines jaggery, dry ginger and cardamom. Some recipes also add a hint of crushed peppercorns or cooking camphor. While the beverage has a strong association with Ramanavami and Narasimha Jayanthi, it is served in quite a few homes in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka through the summer months. Jaggery is the key to this drink and it's best to use dark jaggery with minimal processing. It's not unusual to substitute jaggery with palm sugar.Ancient science will probably tell us that Panakam was used as an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) especially in parts of south India where the humidity and excessive sweating saps the body of fluids and salts. Jaggery in its purest form is loaded with electrolytes and raw carbohydrates. It's the perfect antidote for dehydration. While butter milk is the everyday solution to beat the heat in most south Indian homes, panakam gives you an instant sweet and tangy boost. Jaggery is a rich source of minerals like iron and potassium while the antioxidants in the ginger make this a particularly healthy beverage round the year. It's also a 'refreshing' change from a conventional lemonade, especially if you like that occasional sugar rush.
Panakam Recipe (Serves 4)Ingredients:
- Jaggery - 150 gms
- Water - 600 ml (three glasses)
- Juice of three lemons (medium size)
- Dry ginger powder - half teaspoon (can be substituted with crushed ginger)
- A pinch of cooking camphor (optional)
- Soak jaggery in the water till it melts completely
- Filter the water to remove any particles
- Add the lemon juice
- Add the powders and stir well
- Although it is refreshing at room temperature, it tastes even better when chilled.
- While it's okay to substitute jaggery with palm sugar, the drink doesn't work with sugar instead of jaggery.
- It's not uncommon to use tamarind extract instead of lemon juice.
Panakam also makes for a great ingredient for refreshing summer cocktails and mocktails. I've found that the sweetness of jaggery works particularly well with Bourbon whiskies and honey liqueurs crafted with American whiskey.Panakam Cocktail RecipeIngredients:
- American Whiskey: 30 ml
- Honey liqueur: 30 ml
- Panakam: 100 ml
- Ginger ale: 50 ml (optional)
- Juice of half a lemon
Method:Bring these ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker
So what are you waiting for? Beat the heat with this refreshing summer cooler!
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.