Chandramana new year (Lunar) brings with it the spring season. There are festivities every where. The fresh new spouting leaves paints nature with fresh look. I am happy during this season because my garden also wears festive look - varieties of jasmines fill the air with fragrance.
Ugadi lunar hindu new year takes me back to my childhood. Ramanavami - the day of birth of Lord Rama which follows Ugadi usually brought with it varieties of kosambari (soaked lentil preparations), rasayana (South Indian style fruit salads) prepared using ripe banana, musk melon, mango and jack fruit. To quench the summer heat and to wash down kosambari there would be panakams (South Indain style lemonades) prepared using mango, melon, lemon and the very special belada panaka.
That refreshing aromatic belada panaka still lingers in my mouth. So this spring I decided to scout for some wood apples and make panakam. I was also keen to introduce this refreshing drink to my daughter in law who is from Mumbai. I am sure my friends you will like this different from mundane, refreshing and rejuvenating panaka.
For the beginners wood apple is a seasonal fruit, has a hard outer shell, pulp is the edible part which is used for making murabbas, chutneys and lemonade like drinks. Pulp tastes sweet to sour depending on the variety. Plenty of literature is available on the medicinal value and application of bael in Ayurveda. It is a coolant, good for liver, kidney and heart health. It cuts vata and khapha.
So let us prepare, enjoy beat this summer heat
Preparation time - 15 minute.
Serving - 6 -8 glasses using pulp of one fruit
- Bael fruit - 1
- Jaggery - 150 -200 gms
- Salt - 1 pinch
- Cardamom powder - 1/2 spoon
- Water - 1 lt
- Break open the beal fruit ( hard shell can be opened by hitting it against a hard surface)
- Take the pulp in a bowl, mix 250 ml of water and extract the juice by pressing and squeezing with fingers. (similar to extracting tamarind juice)
- Soak jaggery with 500 ml water and let jaggery dissolve
- Using a strainer separate clear bael juice
- Mix juice , jaggery water, salt and cardamom powder and mix well.
- Adjust the the taste for sourness/sweetness by adding extra jaggey/water as per your requirement
- This juice tastes great even without refrigeration however, you may refrigerate and serve/serve with ice cubes.
- Demerera sugar, honey or jaggery syrup may be used to sweeten this drink.
- Wood apPle is very seasonal (February end to May)
- If there are cracks on the shell there will be fungal growth inside. Look for the signs before you go ahead (see the pic below has white growth). You may also see black growth sometimes.
- Do not use if there is contamination.