Shikanji is the spiced version of Indian lemonade, or nimbu pani, which translates to lemon water. The nectar of the gods in the height of summer, this is drunk in a bid to cool down at home in as well as in the post-Raj clubs dotted around India. I find it a huge hit during barbeques on hot summer days. You can make soda shikanji too, which is simply topped with soda or sparkling water instead of still.
You can top this with whichever of the two you fancy but importantly, it needs to be served ice cold. Remember to steep the lemon in the spices for a couple of hours to let them infuse. The adding of lemon zest is not traditional, but it’s so packed with flavour that I hate not putting it to use. Make a load of the spiced lemon syrup and stash it in the fridge at the first sign of summer or what is otherwise known in Britain as a heatwave!
Makes 2 pints
- 1 tsp whole cumin
- 4 large lemons
- 6 tbsp caster sugar
- Half tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Half tsp black/pink salt
- 4 slices of lemon to serve
Dry roast the whole cumin on a medium heat until warm. Then crush finely in a pestle or spice grinder.
Now, grate the zest of two lemons and then juice them all into a large beaker or small jug. Mix in half a teaspoon of the ground roasted cumin, the sugar, the black pepper and the black salt. Add just enough cold warm to dissolve the sugar and then steep for a couple of hours.
When you’re ready to enjoy a glass of shikanji, strain into four glasses filled with a couple of ice cubes each, then top with still or sparkling water.