By Praerna Kartha
Aam Panna is a very popular summer beverage in Northern India. It looks and tastes very refreshing and I’ve loved it since I was a child. It’s probably my number two favorite summer beverage (right between fresh lemonade and iced tea).
But apparently it has more benefits than just that of being a thirst quencher – this raw mango and mint drink is also a remedy for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I guess you learn something new everyday! It’s very easy to whip up and can even be made in larger batches and stored as a concentrate. Just add water and ice and a refreshing summer beverage shall be at your service.
Here’s what I used for about 4 servings, 350 ml each:
- 3 raw mangoes, about 400 gms
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp kala namak (rock salt)
- 1/4 tsp roasted jeera (cumin) powder
- 2 heaped tbsp fresh mint leaves (use 1/2-1 tbsp if using dried)
- 1 litre cold water
- Few springs of mint for garnish
Here’s how I made it:
First I washed and wiped the mangoes. I don’t know why, but raw mangoes always seem to be very sticky on the outside -more so than ripe mangoes.
Then I roasted them individually over an open flame till the skin blackened in spots. This step must be undertaken with great caution because once the mango heats up, often small holes will pop in the skin – spraying out hot juice. Do not burn yourself. Use tongs to flip the mangoes and handle them with care.
It took approximately 5-6 minutes for each mango to look like this – mostly dull and brownish with some blackened spots .
Once the mangoes were slightly cool and I could handle them, I peeled and roughly chopped the flesh, discarding the seed.
The skin comes off very easily.
I placed the mango flesh, mint and sugar in the blender and pulsed them till a coarse puree was formed.
Then I added the kala namak and jeera powder and blended again till it formed a smooth puree.
Now you can store this puree in the refrigerator or freezer as a concentrate and use it whenever you please. This time, I decided to make the drink completely but before the raw mango season ends, I will make big batches and store the concentrate.
Transferring the puree to a pitcher, I added 1 litre of chilled water to it and mixed it well. (This is the point where you should check for sugar and salt and adjust it if you need to).
I placed the pitcher in the refrigerator to chill further. When I was ready for it, I stirred the panna once to make sure the concentrate and water hadn’t separated. I poured it over 3-4 cubes of ice and garnished each glass with a sprig of fresh mint.
So green. So cool. So fresh. The whole pitcher was drained in no time. I bought another batch of raw mangoes today for the next round!
o The fire roasting adds a lovely smokey flavour to the drink, but the easier way out is to pressure cook the mangoes with the peel in a little water for about 2 whistles. I will probably do this for a large batch. My mom has an even easier way out – peel and cut the raw mangoes and zap them in the microwave with a little water and the sugar for about 3-5 minutes on high.
o The sugar can be replaced with jaggery for a more rustic flavour and an even healthier drink – the nutrients of raw mango+jaggery together is almost a super drink!!
o Half the fun of the panna is the kala namak – try not to skimp on that, if you can help it.
Disclaimer: All images in this article were provided by the author.