The very warm weather we’re currently experiencing has me panting a bit. But I’m not complaining at all: it’s wonderful to have such a long stretch of warm days and blue skies. It makes me think of India and summers there, and has brought back so many memories of those times. Especially of all the little hacks that one needs to get through summer there. Cold curd rice, avoiding the sun as much as possible between 9 am and 6 pm, and hoping my mother would make us a big jug of sweet and tart lime juice. This last is such an Indian institution. The Hindi equivalent is Nimbu pani, which literally means lime water, used to the be the first thing we were offered when we went to visit friends on hot days and it is the perfect refresher. It has three ingredients and takes no time to make and I was so surprised that there was no similar equivalent in German homes or cafes. That last has changed quite a bit in the past few years, but it’s still something seldom found at home. This is a simple twist on that long-ago memory, made with orange and grape fruit juice, some cardamom-spiked sugar syrup and fresh herbs. It’s light and summery and could pass as a mocktail, spike it with some Aperol or a splash of Vermouth for a citrusy sundowner. I like to serve this chilled, after it’s spent some time in the fridge so all the ingredients and flavours can meld together. Even if this is just an hour, it makes a big difference in the taste.
Sunshine Citrus Lemonade
Makes about 1 litre
250 ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (1 largish grapefruit)
200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (2 medium oranges)
A few sprigs of fresh herbs like basil, mint or thyme (preferably 2)
A small handful of raspberries, slightly crushed
1/2 litre water
Cardamom-sugar syrup* to taste
Ice cubes, to serve
Cardamom Sugar Syrup
4 teaspoons brown sugar
3-4 tablespoons (approximately 45ml) hot water
2 cardamom pods, gently crushed
Make the cardamom sugar syrup by placing the brown sugar and crushed cardamom (including the husks) in a small bowl. Add the hot water and stir gently to dissolve the sugar. Set aside and allow to steep for about 30 minutes.
Reserve a small piece of the grapefruit to use as garnish and slice into thin pieces. Add these to a large jug, along with the raspberries and the fruit juices. If you’d like a clear lemonade, strain the grapefruit and orange juices before using. Gently tap the herbs against the palm of your hand to release their aromas and add to the jug. I used a combination of basil and mint, but feel free to experiment: Basil and thyme, just rosemary or a combination of mints (Moroccan, regular, Thai) would all work very well. Add the cooled sugar syrup and gently mix together. Pour in half a litre of water and stir, then place the jug in the fridge and allow to chill for at least half an hour.
Before serving, stir through and check if it needs more sugar. Pour over ice cubes and serve immediately.
Images: Vatsala Murthy