Celebrate the sizzling Masterpiece series, Indian Summers with this delicious treat from guest blogger Mohini Patel Glanz who combined British flair with a traditional Indian drink.
THE INDIAN SUMMER
A BRITISH AND INDIAN GIN FIZZ
This mixed drink combines favorite flavors from both the British and Indian memories of the summer of 1932, when the first season is set for Indian Summers on Masterpiece.
Nimbu pani means "lime water" in Hindi, and it is the most familiar summer drink in India aside from perhaps lassi or chai. Summers in India are quite sweltering, and nimbu pani restores essential electrolytes quickly and cheaply. It is not your regular lime-ade, rather it is both sweet & salty, with a sulfurous rock salt and bits of toasted cumin. Most of India drinks nimbu pani without alcohol or soda, and without straining the spices. It is generally finished with added water and sugar to-taste.
Nimbu pani also tastes great when mixed with both gin and ginger beer. The British had brewed ginger beer for more than a century before Indian Summers is set, and took it with them across the world.
Gin, meanwhile was the poison of choice for soldiers in the British Empire. The popular drink gin & tonic was born in India. Tonic water contains quinine, which was essential to survival in tropical places like India because it helps prevent and treat malaria. To mask the bitter taste of quinine, British soldiers started mixing tonic water with gin.
The everyday Indian's summer drink and the elixir of the British Raj combine for a sort of an Ango-Indian gimlet or a nimbu pani fizz. Ginger beer helps make the marriage in my recipe, but if the spice is too much for you then club soda can do as well. I like a lot of flavor and recommend maple syrup, but you may rather use simple syrup. Adjust ingredients to your taste. There is no one nimbu pani recipe in India, and there will not be one Indian Summer for all tastes.
Serve with one or more episodes of Indian Summers on Masterpiece and enjoy, while listening for references to nimbu pani, gimlet, and the many mergers of British and Indian characters, culture and history.
2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz maple syrup (or simple syrup)
2 oz of your best London dry gin
1/4 teaspoon finely ground, toasted cumin
1/8 teaspoon kala namak (it means “black salt” in Hindi, but is a Himalayan rock salt which is actually pink when ground; sea salt is an alternative)
ginger beer (or club soda for less spice)
garnish with an edible flower or twist of lime
Mix lime juice, maple syrup, cumin, kala namak and gin.
Strain and pour the mixture into two chilled cocktail glasses.
Top it off with cold ginger beer.
Garnish with an edible flower like miniature roses and serve immediately.
Indian Summers returns to KCTS 9 in Fall, 2016.