Raspberry Tukmaria Meyer Lemonade

Raspberry Meyer Lemonade with Sweet Basil seeds and Brown Sugar

Ever since I discovered them early last year, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with them. They are without a doubt, a thing of beauty in themselves, in their vibrant color, dainty ambrosial aroma and a sweeter, quaint citrus taste.

An infinitesimal inhalation of their fragrance is enough to freshen one up. I am confessing my love (yet again) for none other than the golden offspring of lemon and (presumably) mandarin orange, the exotic sunshine fruit of california, Meyer Lemons.

If you give them a tiny chance in your kitchen, surely, you will too!

Be forewarned though, once you are hooked on to their ethereal perfume and resplendent looks, don’t blame me, if you start looking down upon the regular “run off the mill” lemons for which I will only respond with “I told you so..

I’d say, when life hands you Meyer Lemons, life is beautiful..

Though these lemony beauties peak in winter, sometimes if you are lucky, you might find them in Whole Foods up until end of April or early May, like I did last year.

So, lose no time to revel in their goodness now.. So, if you have a backyard, a tiny garden, or even a balcony, just spare the much ignored corner for a meyer lemon tree for a long lasting gratification..

With spring gone in the first couple of weeks of its arrival, April afternoons already feel more like a trailer of blazing summer from June, where I live in Texas. Don’t even get me thinking on what August might have in store!

While making lemonade out of Meyer Lemons was the most fool proof idea to cool off, like I made Meyer Lemon Paanaka in Indian style last summer, this time, it seemed fascinating to combine it with the natural pink of raspberries and some fun textured Tukmaria for an almost dreamy, amber colored cooling drink I could ever imagine.

Forget herbs or spices to flavor, if you allow the perfumania of meyer lemons to steal the show!

My discovery of Tukmaria (pronounced “Took-maria”) was through my mom-in-law when she came to visit us last year. While we walked the aisles of the Indian grocery store in exploration of new spices, I was intrigued by its strange sounding name. And it was from her, I learnt that it is used most commonly in Falooda (a persian dessert, introduced to India by the Mughals) and that it is a natural coolant as well.After some time consuming research (aka googling), I also learnt that, Tukmaria (in Hindi) is the seed of the Sweet Basil plant also known as St. John’s wort in European countries. It is not the same as Holy basil or Tulsi, though it looks similar.

And, through a friend, I realized that sweet basil is the same as “Kaama Kasturi” (kannada) – the sweet clove scented fragrant sprig many-a-times inter sewn in jasmine (mallige) or jaaji floral strings and garlands. Those of you from Karnataka might recognize instantly. I don’t recollect any culinary use for it though, I’ve heard it to be a medicinal herb.

And, they are sold under many a names like sabja, subja, tukmaria, takmaria and falooda seeds

This site has some detailed information about the plant.

Sweet basil seeds resemble black sesame seeds in color and tear drop shape, but are clearly distinguishable as they are a wee bit smaller and plumper too. When soaked in water, they swell up and appear to be frog spawn look-a-likes. Pardon my choice for analogy, being a vegetarian! They can be compared to tiny tapioca pearls, if it gives you a better idea.

They do not have any distinct taste of their own, but their slimy jelly exterior and the nutty bite of the interior make them quite fun in a mouthful!

If you can’t find Tukamaria/Sweet basil seeds, Chia seeds make a great substitute. Why, they swell in water very much like basil seeds and they are an antioxidant powerhouse as we know it, which makes me wonder if Sweet basil seeds must be equally potent too?

Have you heard of Tukmaria before? How do you like to use Tukmaria in your recipes?

Raspberry Tukmaria Meyer Lemonade Recipe

makes 4 small glasses of lemonade
Printable Recipe

Things you’ll need:

4 meyer lemons
12 raspberries
1 tbsp tukmaria/ sweet basil seeds
6-7 tbsp brown sugar
3 cups water
a pinch of salt

How it’s done:

Soak the takmaria seeds in 1/2 cup water for about 30 mins.

In the meanwhile, wash, cut and squeeze the meyer lemons. Gently rolling the lemons wrapped in a tissue under the feet puts the right amount of pressure and makes most of the juice available for squeezing. If you aren’t comfortable, do so with your palm. Wash the lemons well before using.

It will be nothing short of a blunder if you discard the meyer lemon peels. If you’ll take my words, find a clean, dry jar (glass or porcelain, canning, anything), quarter the used peels and toss them in. layer them with sea salt and preserve to be used as is or pickled later.

Strain the seeds. Transfer the juice to a sauce pan or microwave safe bowl and add brown sugar to the juice. Add a pinch of salt. Either microwave for 30 secs or heat on stove top on sim for a few minutes until sugar dissolves. This will be quick. Stir well with a spoon to dissolve any remaining sugar.

Add 2-1/2 cups of water to the sugar syrup and stir to mix well. Taste the juice to adjust the sugar. I listed 6-7 tbsp sugar, so you can suit to your taste. 6 tbsp leaves a quaint tartness, while 7 tbsp makes it sweeter.

Wash the raspberries and pat dry. In a small bowl, crush them with the back of a spoon or with your fingers. Add some juice to this and wash off the crushed raspberries into the juice bowl. Add some juice to the soaked tukmaria and wash it off into the juice bowl. Stir to mix well.

Refrigrate and serve chilled.

Note: 

Tukmaria is available in most Indian grocery stores, persian food stores and world food markets.

The amber color of the lemonade is mainly due to the use of brown sugar. White sugar might result in a faint pink lemonade.

For those of you who can’t access tukmaria locally, it is available at myspicesage.com

Don’t see why strawberries can’t be substituted for raspberries. Puree strawberries before mixing.

If you decide to preserve the meyer lemon peels, it is preferable to sit the jars in boiling water for sterilization and let them dry completely before use.

Treat yourself to more:

  

Meyer Lemon Paanaka

Saffron and Cardamom infused Indian Lemonade

[Paa nuh kuh] (Sanskrit, Kannada)

How can one mention summer without lemonade in the same sentence, right? Lemonade is such a part and parcel of the season, to beat the heat and refreshingly so. Lemonade being so ubiquitous, recipes are limited only by one’s imagination. This recipe is simple yet ranks very high on looks, flavor and taste. There, you have the three musketeers of the culinary world in one tall glass of sunshine yellow lemonade!
You must be wondering where on earth did I find Meyer Lemons now! I must be misplaced talking about the Dec-April season citrus fruit in the middle of nowhere in July. Well, I could find them here in TX even till end of May or early June. Only I couldn’t get this post out much earlier.
You know why? I was indulging in a good summer break, letting my hair down and putting my feet up in Long Beach, California followed by meeting close friends in sunny San Diego after years and then a day of wonderful photography workshop by Helene of Tartelette in Salt Lake City. I have a lot more to say about that, perhaps in my next post. Now that I’ve gotten it out-of-the-way, let me get back to telling you a little about Paanaka.

Paanaka is a sanskrit word for a ‘drink’ or ‘drinkable’ usually a juice or similar. Where I am originally from, lemonade season starts as early as March, especially to mark the birth of Lord Rama, the popular Hindu deity and epitome of virtue, piety and simplicity. For those reasons, a festival by name Ramanavami is celebrated by offering Paanaka coupled with Kosambari, a kind of soaked lentils salad. Tradition aside, Paanaka is never reserved only for festivals, it is highly sought after to cool parched throats on any scorching sunny afternoon!
This recipe comes from my grand dad’s house, the way it has always been made for as long as I can remember except for the pinch of salt, which I learnt from my mom. You might think what a pinch of salt can add? World peace, may be not; taste, of course yes. However weird or counter-intuitive it sounds, salt opens up the sweetness of lemonade in its inconsequential existence. In my grand dad’s house, Paanaka would be (and still is) made in a huge steel vessel with a copper bottom, one that could hold at least 10 litres. Don’t even bother imagining leftovers. With a large joint family to cater to, a glass here and a glass there always resulted in an empty vessel before our thirsty throats realized.

{Twin Meyer Lemons}
Meyer lemons have a delicate aroma and are less pungent than their regular commercial counterparts. Their color and flavor falls in between that of lemons and tangerines with a subtle floral note. You guessed it, they are hybrids, a cross between regular lemons and oranges or tangerines. Fruitier than they are acidic or zesty lemony, they come in spherical shapes with a thin, soft and smooth aromatic rind. Hadn’t I been blogging (rather tweeting), I doubt if I would have ever discovered these lovely rich orange-yellow beautieson my own.
Never mind if you can’t find them anywhere in the farmer’s market or your favorite whole foods store now. There is always the next season.
And, if you ever get to see them anywhere, don’t shy away from buying. They are an experience in themselves. Oh, if you said you have a Meyer lemon tree in your backyard, I’d call you lucky, can’t stop wishing I had one too!

A combination of different aromatic notes of the floral Meyer lemonindescribable saffron and almost camphor cardamom make this lemonade exquisite. If you have never tasted lemonade through saffron and cardamom spectacles, this summer is the best time I’d say..
I know there must be a gazillion lemonade recipes, but which one is your favorite? And what is it that makes it special?

Panaka Recipe 

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
makes about 3 8 oz glasses
  • 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemon)
  • 3-4 tbsp organic cane sugar (approx)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cardamom pods, freshly crushed
  • 5-6 strands saffron
  • 2 cups (500 ml) cold water
How it’s done:
Infuse Saffron Heat or warm half a cup of water on the stove top or microwave. Crush the saffron strands between your finger tips into the hot water, cover and let infuse.
Grind Cardamom Gently pound on the cardamom pods either with a rolling-pin or with a pestle and pry open the seeds with your fingers. Either grind the seeds fine in a mortar and pestle or on the counter with the rolling-pin.
Juice lemons If the lemons are refrigerated, let them come to room temperature before juicing for maximum juice or just sit them in warm water for 10 mins.
*in case you’re using regular lemons: If you still find them hard after thawing, wrap them in a tissue or plastic bag and place on the floor. Roll them gently back and forth with your foot for about 10 secs. Why not with your palm? palm doesn’t deliver the right amount of pressure that foot does I guess. I’ve always done this way (this is how it was done at home), it makes sure all of the juice is well extracted*. Unwrap and wash lemons well. Squeeze juice using a citrus juicer or just by hand.
Paanaka Pour juice into a glass and add salt. Add enough sugar to fill the juice completely. Add saffron water, stir well or let sit for a bit until the sugar dissolves. Add some cold water and transfer to a large glass jug, pour remaining water, sprinkle ground cardamom as per your taste and stir well.
Serve Taste and adjust water, sugar and cardamom before serving chilled. Sprinkle cardamom just before serving as otherwise it loses its flavor soon.
Note:
Select lemons that have a thin, smooth skin and are bright, shiny and heavy for their size which indicates juiciness. Because it is fruity, it requires lesser sugar compared to regular lemons.
Sugar substitutes Sub honey, half and half of cane sugar and honey, brown sugar, even jaggery or sucanat for interesting tastes.
Enjoy a few other interesting coolers and beautiful photography from some of my favorite bloggers:
Spiked Blueberry Lemonade by Sala Kannan of Veggiebelly
Watermelon Cooler by Kankana of Sunshine and Smile
Honey Ginger Lemonade by Sylvie of Gourmande in the Kitchen
 Grapefruit and Mint Cooler by Sukaina of Sips and Spoonfuls
Homemade Strawberry Lemonade by My Baking Addiction

You might also like: