Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pink Panha

When I made Rhubarb Chutney not too long ago, I kept aside a stalk for an experiment that I had in mind. It turned out so wildly successful, that I had to post about it.

I had always heard of making rhubarb syrup and then diluting it with regular or sparkling water to make a refreshing drink, and wanted to try it out. So I did, and swooned over the pretty color, but I wasn't prepared for what it would taste like. As soon as I had a sip, my first reaction was to exclaim how much it tastes like 'Panha', the classic Maharashtrian drink made with tart raw mangoes, and I was beyond thrilled!

A week later, I bought more rhubarb specifically for making a pink 'Panha', and this time I enhanced it with the flavor of cardamom, which I associate with the traditional taste of 'Panha'. I also measured out the quantities rather than adding sugar and water by andaaz. The tartness of rhubarb varies with the batch, so you would have to use your judgement of quantities based on how sweet and tart you want the end result to be. I have provided my measurements as a guideline.

The elusive taste of 'Panha' and the gorgeous pink color of Rhubarb is sure to be a crowd pleaser.


Rhubarb Syrup Drink / Panha

Makes 4-5 servings


2 large stalks rhubarb (about 5 oz, or 1-1/2 cups when chopped)
1/2 cup (+ 1-2 Tablespoons sugar if needed)
1-1/2 cups water
2 pods of cardamom
4-5 cups water or sparkling water
Salt to taste
lemon juice (if needed)


Clean the stalks of rhubarb. If they have dry ends, trim them off. Chop the stalks into roughly 1 inch pieces and add them to a stainless steel pan. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1-1/2 cups water. Heat the pan, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat, and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and can be mashed with the back of a spoon. If it gets too thick during the process, add some water as needed.

In the meanwhile, peel the cardamom pods, and powder the seeds in a mortar and pestle. Stir the powder into the cooked mixture.

When the liquid has cooled, you can mash the rhubarb with a masher or fork, or run the mixture in a blender. Strain the syrup in a sieve to remove any tough fibres.

Add a pinch of salt, and taste the syrup. Add extra sugar if you want it sweeter, and some lemon juice for more tartness. When ready to serve, mix the syrup with about 4-5 cups of water, and pour into glasses with ice. You can also use sparkling water, but the classic Panha is made with regular water.


You can make a large batch of the syrup and keep it in the fridge for several days, and add water and ice as needed to dilute.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Mint Chutney

On 'Evolving Notes', I have written about various fruit chutneys that I have made, mostly inspired by the recipes from 'My Bombay Kitchen'. While all of them were delicious, the best of them all was the Rhubarb Chutney.

Earlier this spring, Mints wrote a post about that Rhubarb Chutney which reminded me to make it once again. I was also reminded of her crowd-pleasing Strawberry Mint lemonade, which I like a lot as well. All of these favorite flavors then easily came together in another chutney, and a new winner was created.

Taking a cue from Niloufer Ichaporia, I followed the principle of making sure that the chutney was emphatically sweet, hot, and tart.

Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Mint Chutney

Strawberry Rhubarb Mint Chutney


About 2 stalks of rhubarb (about 4 oz)
1 pint strawberries
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
30-40 mint leaves
optional lemon juice if needed


Hull the strawberries. If the rhubarb has dry ends, trim them off. Chop the rhubarb and strawberries into 1/2 inch sized pieces and add them to a stainless steel pan. Add everything except the mint leaves and cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until it is jammy and soft. You can check by mashing the pieces of strawberries and rhubard with the back of the cooking spoon.

When cool, add coarsely chopped or torn mint leaves. Use an immersion blender or a food processor and pulse a few times until the mint leaves are finely chopped. Either way, remember to pulse.

Taste, taste, taste. Adjust the salt, heat with chili powder, and tartness with lemon juice if needed.

Serving fruit chutneys

I usually serve these chutneys just like most other chutneys and pickles in Indian cuisine. I place them on the table, for everyone to help themselves. Over the last couple of years, I have been enjoying various cheese courses while eating out, and I have started creating them at home as well. When I have a sweet and spicy chutney on hand, I buy an interesting cheese, some hearty fresh bread or crackers, and arrange it on a platter to savor with a glass of wine or other drinks.

Strawberry Rhubarb Chutney with Brie

Cheese and chutney

Other Chutneys

A note on other chutneys I have made, and a recipe for Pear Ginger Chutney.
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