Shikanji is the drink you didn’t know you needed this summer. A zingy combo of spices, salt and sweet combines with lemon juice to make the best non-alcoholic drink you and your guests will love during the next picnic, dinner party or cookout. As I sit typing this, warm weather has been playing truant here in the Seattle area but I know its just around the corner.
Shikanji/ Shikanjvi is typically made during the hot summers in Northern parts of India and is also called jain shikanji. We usually make it with water or we can also make it fizzy by using club soda or seltzer water. The soda version is also called masala soda and is sold as street food(or drink??).
Making the best Shikanji
What sets shikanji apart from regular lemonade is the use of spices along with lemon juice, sugar and salt. You can use store bought spices for this and we do use some of those. However for some of these other spices like cumin, black pepper etc I would highly recommend dry roasting your spices before powdering them to use here. The flavors are more concentrated as a result and take your drink to another level!
If you are running short of time or don’t want to roast the spices, just combined 11/4 tsp of cumin powder with 1/4 tsp of black pepper powder. If using coriander seeds, combine 3/4 tsp of cumin and coriander powder each and 1/4 tsp of black pepper powder.The exact amounts of spices are just a guide. Play around with the ingredients until the end product tastes right for you.
The one store bought spice blend we do use here is the chaat masala. Chaat refers the generic name for street food used across India. This spice blend is tangy , flavorful and used as a finishing blend for most of the street food. Here as well, it brings in the same “flavors to the lemonade “street food” flavors to the lemonade.
Besides this, there isn’t much else than to mix all the ingredients together and chilling it before enjoying it on a hot day.
How to serve and store
I love serving it with a sprinkle of fresh mint leaves and a pinch of chaat masala on top. You can make the drink a day ahead and store in the refrigerator. Just make sure to give the drink a good stir before serving and add the mint leaves a few minutes before serving. If you like your drinks extra cold, add some ice right before serving.
Like I mentioned earlier, you can swap the water with seltzer water or club soda. Or try mixing in fresh orange juice or pineapple juice. You can also use mountain dew, sprite or even coke as a base for this drink if you prefer that.
Add some fresh grated ginger to the drink for added flavor and health benefits.
You can also mix all the dry spices and store it in an airtight container for 3-4 months. Just mix with water, lime juice , sugar and enjoy the drink.
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Shikanji( Spiced Lemonade)
- Roast the cumin, black pepper and coriander seeds for low heat for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and let the spices cool down little.Grind the spices in a spice grinder or with a mortar & pestle.
- Add the water to a pitcher and add 1 1/2 tsp of the roasted cumin and black pepper powder and all of the other ingredients. Mix well. Taste to check if it needs more sugar or salt and adjust accordingly.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving or serve right away poured over some ice. Top with fresh mint leaves and a sprinkle of chaat masala.
- If you are running short of time or don’t want to roast the spices, just combined 11/4 tsp of cumin powder with 1/4 tsp of black pepper powder. If using coriander seeds, combine 3/4 tsp of cumin and coriander powder each and 1/4 tsp of black pepper powder.