I generally read 4-5 books at a time, couple of them as physical books and rest on Kindle. But the restlessness over the last 3 months during the Corona Lockdown has made this reading pile run into a dozen odd books, I have picked up serious heavy books only to abandon them in favour of light superfluous reading. What I have done instead is lots of cooking in the absence of household help.
One of the books I am in the middle of reading is The Great Derangement – Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh, the book has been on my reading radar for almost a year now and I bought the Kindle version much before the book gained attention with Indian media due to cyclonic predictions on both the east and the west coasts of the country last month.
What strikes when one reads the book is that the climate change that has come about has been visible in our lifetime itself, it has not happened over few generations. In fact, if we talk to people born in 1970s and maybe early 1980s, we can piece in the whole story of climate change in those 40-50 years of memories.
I also have a story – April used to be not just the month for school session and class changes but also for season change to India’s famous hot summer season and hence, the school timing change from day session to morning sessions. It was a season of dry intense heat with hot winds that blow which are called loo with low humidity that can be dehydrating as well as cause heatstrokes.
I would reach home around 1 pm – just in time for lunch. But before lunch – there would be a glass of cold water along with a cold refreshing drink that would be waiting for me and I would sit on front of the desert cooler and let myself cool down. The smell and refreshingly cold feeling of the cooler when it starts is what I remember of those days – they were only effective in that dry summer season before the humid weather of monsoon started.
Of course, in the modern apartment living, these coolers have given way to air conditioners. But it has been necessitated also by the very short spell of dry summer heat of just few weeks instead of long April-June season. The humidity now arrives as early as in May which makes the ACs more suitable both in terms of convenience and limited spaces that we live in.
Along with climate change, our traditions have also gone through a change – the hot dry spell meant lot of liquid intake in form of traditional summer coolers – thandai, bel ka sherbet, phalsa sherbet, aam panna, sattu ka sherbet, sweet lassi and salty mattha, shikanjivi etc are just a few that I know in the whole repertoire of Indian sherbets and summer drinks. There are few households who make some or all of these now – mostly like many other things comes from tetra pack or have been substituted by cola and other fizzy drinks.
Indian summer is also synonymous with mangoes – there are innumerable recipes for both sweet and savoury dishes, pickles and chutneys, juices et al. Sweet and sour with a hint of spices that is a quintessential Indian addition even to its drinks, aam panna made from the seasonal Indian king of the fruits and everyday kitchen ingredients is comparatively easy to make. Making and consuming aam panna is still a tradition that continues in our household – I used to make it even when I was staying alone and now with my mother we have it more often – though my aam panna recipe or rather the method is little different from hers.
It is not just a thirst quencher which helps during the intense summer heat. It helps balance the salt and good for indigestion and stomach problems. Rich in iron and Vitamin C helps in the immunity as well.
Here is my aam panna recipe:
- Raw Mango – should ideally be with smaller seed and more pulp
- Salt – use any salt that you prefer – normal, low sodium, sea salt, rock salt
- Black Salt – I generally use both salts in equal proportions
- Pepper – either pepper powder or pepper corns – I use pepper corns
- Roasted jeera or cumin seeds – either as whole or powder – whatever is handy
- Mint leaves
- Sugar – this depends not just on personal preference but also on the sourness of the mango
– Peel and boil the mangoes in the pressure cooker. If the size of mangoes are small, then they can be put whole otherwise cut them in big chunks and boil with the seeds. Some people also roast the raw mangoes, gives it a smoky flavour.
– Once they have cooled, remove the pulp from the seeds. At this stage I strain them for a smooth consistency to remove the pulp – I use just a basic steel sieve, traditionally, it had to be extra fine sieve or fine mull cloth.
– Add all the remaining ingredients and churn it in the blender along with the remaining water it was boiled in. If you have used the whole spices instead of powder, make sure that they have blended properly. Many people strain the whole mixture at this stage rather than before – you can follow either method.
– I make this as a pulpy mixture – thicker consistency. Transfer to a glass jar or bottle and store it in the fridge or freezer for longer use.
– To enjoy the drink, take 1/3 of the pulp and mix with 2/3 cold water. Serve with ice and whole pudina leaves.
– This can also be used as a cocktail base to make Aam Panna Mojito or Aam Panna with Vodka – cheers and enjoy!!
Do drop in a line of you made my aam panna recipe and enjoyed it!!