Cumin spiced Blood Orange and Citrus cooler
I happened to compose this post in early March, delighted that I had something timely and seasonal to share. But, before I got to finish it and hit the publish button, I was consumed by other non-food related projects that demanded priority. When realization struck, March had whizzed past by me and April to me, seems to be in a hurry to leave too.
To pick up from where we left, I refrained from editing this post to make it seem current. Hope you are enjoying whatever the season brings in your part of the world and that this cooling Jal jeera which was meant to welcome an early spring is still timely.
As written in the first week of March:
And, just like that spring is here..
While the Blue bonnet patches have sprung up with scarlet poppies dotted in between along the Texas hill country highways, AC has officially been switched on. It is about to hit 88 F today. And my container garden has started showing new signs of life. It is amazing how nature communicates to the plants with temperature! A warm nudge, a wake up signal with bright sunshine and a cool breeze..
Soon the Meyer lemons and the blood oranges that made up for the missing sunshine during the almost non-existent winter will be gone from the stores. Soon. But, before that I have a recipe to make the best of it before they do, just in time for spring!
Colors mesmerize me. I must have ranted on that in my previous post and I will hesitate little to say it yet again. It was surely for their crimson red juicy shimmer that I was completely drawn to Blood oranges. At first, the name sounded somewhat off-putting for a vegetarian, though I now wonder what would suit them better. As for taste, I find that they are neither tart nor sweet but a midway bland, flavored with a hint of bitter, a fraction of that of grapefruit. Big on color and mild on flavor and taste, better with a mix of a variety of citrus fruit juices, in my opinion.
Jal Jeera is a cooling summer drink from North India and usually a must in any decent Indian restaurant menu. Cumin is the star spice owing it the name Jal Jeera, “Cumin water”. Blood orange and the mix of citrus juices are perfectly complemented by the spices in this cooler.
Try it and you’ll see why I said that.
Blood Orange Jal Jeera
Things you’ll need:
Makes about 6-8 glasses
3 blood oranges
2 sweet navel oranges
1 lime or lemon
(makes about 1-1/2 cups juice)
For every 1/2 cup of juice:
1 tbsp cumin for dry roasting
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried mint powder
1 tsp crushed jaggery /brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cool water or room temperature
fresh mint for garnish
citrus juicer ~ optional
How it’s done:
Extract juice from all the citrus fruits including the blood oranges in a citrus juicer or squeeze by hand. Makes about 1-1/2 cups juice. For the Jal jeera, I have used 1-1/2 cups water for every 1/2 cup juice.
Roast the cumin seeds in a skillet until fragrant and crackling without burning. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle and keep aside.
Mix 1-1/2 cups cold water to 1/2 cup juice. Sprinkle roasted and freshly ground cumin, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, black salt, jaggery and dried mint crushed between your fingers and thumb.
Taste and adjust spices, salt and jaggery as needed or add more juice or water to suit your taste. Jaggery neutralizes salty, sour and hot tastes. So adjust accordingly.
Serve cold garnished with a sprig of fresh mint
I have used the citrus fruits I had at hand. Any combination of citrus fruits should work excepting grapefruit which might need more jaggery to be added.
Other spices like dry mango powder or a touch of red chilli powder can also be added.
Cilantro can also be used as garnish.
Brown sugar can be used as a substitute for Jaggery.