Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pseudo Panha

Dear Winter,
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.

Applesauce Panha

(Makes about 3 servings; adapted from The Cooker)
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!


  1. Oh how I long for a good winter! I so miss the Buffalo winters here...weird, huh?

    This is such a great refreshing drink on a hot summer day.
    Using applesauce to make panha is just brilliant!

  2. Sounds delicious! It's snowing here again too. I hate winter, but it definitely makes me appreciate the other seasons.

  3. Hi Nupur,

    This looks great! Just one more reason -- as if I needed one -- to miss summer. I know that it might be "cheating", but could I substitute natural apple juice for the applesauce and water?

  4. Now that's quite a recipe, Nupur! I agree, i've never found good kairi here. Infact, one time my friend and i wanted to make mango pickle and bought kairi, which was not tart at all :( so we ended up adding lime juice to the pickle :-D.

    Hope the weather takes a warmer turn for your area.

  5. Wow, a drink with applesauce, that is a brilliant idea... I missed the original post, so thanks for bringing it back to the limelight...

  6. I would have never thought of making a drink from applesauce.
    Looks really refreshing.
    Yeah and about the oven fried potatoes, we do eat them with a big dollop of mayo :-)

  7. What a wonderful beverage - I'm really intriqued by the idea of applesauce and cardamom.

  8. This is a good idea.. the kairis out here are ....boring... not at all tart.. :((

  9. This sounds wonderful. I know what you mean about mangoes. My sister in-law is from the Philippines and said that Americans just don't know what a good mango tastes like. Fortunately a small market near her sells them to her by the case and we all benefit.

  10. I'll have to try this - I always have apples on hand, which means applesauce is never far off! I'm hopeful that winter has taken leave of us in Maryland - it's still chilly, but signs of spring are everywhere. Yay!

  11. My mom used to make this sweet and tangy panha regularly in summer when I was in bombay. I had no idea you could make this with applesauce too, you have such fantastic ideas, Nupur! Thanks for sharing.

  12. wow..thats so innovative panha and that too applesauce panha.this must be really refreshing.....there's so much time still left for me to enjoy this is still snowing here:(

  13. Ooooh, this looks delicious! I love cardamom with apples, and I love making applesauce the way my grandmother taught me -- with the skins left on, so the applesauce turns pink, just seasoned with a bit of cinnamon and cloves.

  14. What a coincidence, I just bought a big bottle of *applesauce* from Super Target and here I see this refreshing drink..:D.. I will try this making with sugar..Hope it turns out as good as urs Nupur..:D


  15. Apple sauce for making Panha, very interesting & creative! Looks great......Tasty yum too i am sure :-)

  16. Looks so good. very refreshing.

  17. TBC, OMG, you are weird! You actually miss Buffalo winters? I have spent one week in Buffalo in winter and that is going to be enough for the rest of my life :D

    Kalyn, oh dear, it is snowing there? Here, we have no snow but lots of rain is in the forecast. Fun! On the other hand, asparagus season is almost here :)

    Bek, see, the point of using applesauce here is that diluted applesauce totally mimics the texture of stewed raw mangoes (the pulp etc.) Now, I am guessing that spiking apple juice with some lemon juice and cardamom (you probably won't need sugar there because apple juice is made from very sweet apples) will taste quite interesting, but different from what this tastes like. Give it a shot and let us know :)

    Musical, yeah, it is pretty futile trying to hunt down tropical fruits in this land. But your pickle sounds delicious anyway :)
    We have a week of rain ahead, and then the weather people are promising warmer weather. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

    Sig, thanks for hosting!

    Happy Cook, panha with fries/mayo now that would be a great snack :)

    TWB, it is totally worth a try...I think you will enjoy these flavors!

    Manasi, yeah, we should give up trying to find kairis here and enjoy the great fruits that are available in plenty here in North America, like apples!

    Laura, true :) but it is probably unrealistic to even expect good tropical fruits here in the first place, but like you say, some markets have started to import them so we can enjoy a taste now and then.

    Cathy, I've never made applesauce at home although the recipes sound easy and fun. Can't wait for spring :) You have got to try this recipe- it is very refreshing.

    Namita, summers and panha- just can't imagine one without the other.
    Oh, trust me, I am not clever enough to come up with such ideas! The idea is from The Cooker's blog, who in turn tells us that this idea was developed by those who settled in the US some decades ago and came up with innovative ways to replicate the foods they missed from India.
    But it is a fantastic idea for sure and I hope you get a chance to try it, Namita!

    Saswati, I know, you must really face some tough winters in Russia. Well, make this drink anyway, maybe it will bring a little taste of summer into the cold winter.

    Lydia, the applesauce sounds divine! I really should try making it at home. If you have some on hand, this drink takes mere minutes to make.

    Siri, well, give it a try and let us know what you think! :)
    So what are you planning to make with that big bottle of applesauce? Or do you like eating it as a snack?

    Seema, yes, I was thrilled to find this creative recipe. It tastes delicious!

    Uma, it sure is!

  18. I'm so glad you tried (and liked) the panha.
    Now agave nectar is something I've been meaning to try for some time now...for the reason that you mentioned: the low GI.

  19. Looks gorgeous and I love the use of agave nectar! :)

  20. I've never had panha before but I have applesauce on hand and that picture is beckoning me to try.

  21. man, I seriously miss the mango panha we used to have in india! but luckily for us, we are blessed by the CA sun and its not as much of a dream:)

    tha looks great Nupur:)

  22. That drink looks delish Nupur! and so clever to use apple sauce as the base :o)

  23. like your request to sweet...:)..drink no doubt looks great!

  24. "How can I miss you if you never go away?" Loved that! Drink sounds refreshing!

    The dosa looks so fluffy and airy! The grinder does make a difference, right? I must look into getting one for myself!

  25. Panha made from applesauce ???!!!
    WOW, never heard of this before. Very creative. Really. Must try.
    I do get kairi here in Los Angeles but I am very eager to try this new Panha :)

  26. Hi Nupur,

    Your panha receipe brought back memories from my childhood when we'd have "Chaitra Haladi-kuku" and I would visit all the neighbours' houses with my mom because I would get to taste different types of panha.. wow.. I will be making this one soon and would invite my friends to drink it durig a spring evening.Thanks.

  27. Wow...really interesting twist to the panha :) It looks so delicious and refreshing.Thanks for the recipe.What do you think will be a good substitute for agave nectar? Is it similar to honey?

  28. TheCooker, it was an instant hit! Can't wait to make it regularly in the sweltering summer months :) Thank you for sharing the idea.

    Kalai, thanks!

    Laavanya, oh, do give it a try. Takes only minutes to make and you will be able to enjoy a delicious drink!

    Mansi, good for you! This version is good enough for those of us who don't get to live in CA :)

    AnuZi, it is clever indeed, and works so well!

    Srivalli, thanks, my dear :)

    Vani, the dosa's airiness was more the poha addition than anything else. Give it a shot with any grinder that you currently use.
    But yes, the ultra grind is great to have in the kitchen :)

    Anjali, yes, this will be an interesting variation to try. You could do side by side taste tests of kairi and applesauce panha :D

    Sumi, oh yes, I sure remember that too :) tagging along with aai just for the panha and ambe dal. Give this a try and see if you like it. It sure would be fun to have on hand for a gathering of friends!

    Homecooked, any sweetener (sugar/honey/jaggery) would work instead of agave nectar.

  29. What a ful drink - nutritious without the loads of calories in pure fruit juice - I would probably skip the sweetener completely as I like 'tart'.
    Winter seems to be hanging on everywhere!

  30. Katiez, sure, skipping the sweetener would result in a deliciously tangy drink!

  31. Hi Nupur, I tried making this last evening and it turned out great! Thanks for posting this :-)

  32. Nupur, I appreciate that you clarified that the idea was not yours especially when some comments called your post as creative, innovative etc. It sure is a sign of your humbleness and honesty. (I had known this clever idea of preparing Panha from a recipe that was posted several years ago on a website called!)

  33. hey nupur,
    i tried searchinf for appleasauce and agave nectar at walmart,,,but cudnt find any of them?
    where do u get these ingredients,,i have apple butter ,is it same as apple sauce?
    please guide. thanks!

  34. Hi There,

    I want to try this recipe and I have lots of store bought applesauce at home. Only confusion is my applesauce contains apples and citric acid as ingredients. Can I still use this for panha recipe?


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