Panakam is a traditional drink prepared in Indian households, particularly South India. One of the ancient recipes prepared by our ancestors to consume during summer and also distributed in temples on special occasions in summer. Panakam is a delicious combination of jaggery, tamarind juice, dry ginger powder and cardamom. The ingredients used tell us a lot about the wise choice and knowledge our ancestors possessed about what they consumed according to the season. Each of the ingredients used has its own health benefit and most importantly it balances the three doshas of our body.
I would call it an instant refreshing thirst quencher and definitely a healthy option when compared to Colas and other aerated drinks. It is prepared during Rama Navami festival (Birth of Lord Rama) as Neivedhyam (offering to God) in large quantities and distributed to all.
Refreshing, delicious. body coolant, thirst quencher, healthy, simple ingredients, no cook drink - Do we need another reason to prepare it? Here comes my twist to this wonderful drink, without spoiling its original taste at the same time not compromising on the healthy ingredients.
I had a good stock of lemons at home (a usual for summer) and wanted to put it to good use. Lemonade is nice but I hate monotony! At the same time, I din't want to use it in cooking, I was looking for a drink. Ah! why not replace tamarind juice and prepare panakam was the instant thought. All excited to experiment, I started juicing the lemons but ho, I ran out of jaggery! Not wanting to use sugar, I used palm sugar syrup, which I prepare and store to use when required for sweet dishes. Also, it will give the colour which tamarind juice gives if I had used that. Enough said, let me give you the recipe now.
Lemon - 3
Palm sugar syrup - 1/2 cup (adjust according to tatse)
Water - 31/2 cups (adjust according to taste)
Dry ginger powder - a pinch
Cardamom - 3-4
Cut the lemon and remove the seeds, squeeze the lemon by hand or using a sqeezer. Pour the lemon juice in a wide vessel or bowl and mix the palm sugar syrup using a spoon. Add water and give it a good mix. Please adjust the syrup and water according to your taste. Add the dry ginger powder. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cardamom and add it to the juice. Mix well and serve.