Jaljeera, Cumin Lemonade

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While teaching a school program on a hot day in India, the kids and I were served a drink I'd never tasted before. It's a sweet, salty, and spicy lemonade called jaljeera. I'm in love; this is the best thing for a hot day, whether it's a Tokyo heatwave or a dusty playground.

There are many variations on jaljeera, but all include sugar, salt, lemon, and cumin. I have two recipes for it; one quick and basic; the other more flavorful. Vary proportions to suit your own taste;  prefer mine not too sweet and the recipes reflect that. Other flavours you can add to jaljeera include tamarind, amchar (dried mango powder), cardamom, and even a sprinkle of chat masala to garnish. 

Quick Jaljeera
serves 1

1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
250 ml water

Squeeze the lemon into a glass, stir in cumin powder, salt and sugar. Add water. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Spicy Green Jaljeera
serves 4-6

1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp whole black pepper 
2 tsp salt
4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

Lightly toast the cumin and fennel seeds. Grind together all the seasonings until a paste forms. Add in the lemon juice. This mixture can be saved in the fridge. To make the drink, stir together 1 Tbsp of the seasoning in 1 cup of water and adjust as desired.

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