How can I miss you if you never go away?
But I should not fret too much. This being St. Louis, the lingering chills of late winter will turn into the sweltering heat of summer soon enough. And this time, I shall be prepared with a tall jug of rejuvenating panha in the fridge. The traditional version of this drink calls for raw mangoes, but what I tried making today is a very clever and innovative version that uses applesauce, a creative recipe shared by The Cooker. In North America, the odds of finding a 20$ bill on the sidewalk are far better than the odds of finding a decent kairi (raw mango), so coming upon this recipe was a very lucky thing.
Applesauce, which is nothing but stewed, mashed apples, is ubiquitously available in the US. If you use store-bought applesauce, just check the label to make sure there is no added sugar or other additives. The one I used has only one ingredient (apples). Applesauce is easy to make at home; see recipes here, here and here. For this panha, I would make plain applesauce without any added spices.
My slight tweak to the recipe: I used agave nectar as the sweetener instead of sugar. Agave nectar is a newfangled product of the ancient agave plant, the same succulent that gives us tequila. I have started using agave nectar as a sweetener for beverages like tea (and this panha) because it dissolves really well, and has a lower glycemic index than sugar. It is more expensive than regular sugar, but I am quite happy to pay a little extra for something that I use very little of in the first place. Of course, in this recipe, one could use any sweetener at all. In fact, next time I will try using jaggery, the way I make the traditional version of panha.
1 C plain applesauce
2 C filtered water
hefty pinch of salt
2 t lemon juice (or to taste)
2 t agave nectar (or to taste)
1/2 t cardamom powder
1. In a small saucepan, cook the applesauce on low heat for 10 minutes or so.
2. Let it cool down for 30-60 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well and taste. Adjust the flavors if necessary to get the right balance of salty-tangy-sweet.
4. Serve chilled!
There is nothing "pseudo" about this taste of this panha: it is utterly refreshing and startling similar to the real thing. I poured myself a glass of applesauce panha when I got back from the gym, all thirsty and exhausted. Every gulp was oh-so-sweet and restorative. Thank you, Ms. Cooker.
This post goes to Coffee's popular Monthly Blog Patrol hosted this month by our favorite mixologist Sig with the theme (surprise, surprise): Mixed Drinks! Cheers!