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.


sra said...

Now that's serendipity! It looks lovely.

Anjali Koli said...

The love for pink makes it such a ladies drink. I can imagine how it would have got you so excited for we Maharashtrians love our panha so much and rhubarb to associate with the flavours of raw mango is such a remote possibility.

Anita said...

It does look lovely! And you have found your green mangoes!

Mints! said...

That pink color looks so fab. Loved it! I am planning to make chutney again soon. I will make this panha too at the time.

Priya said...

Leafy harvest has just begun here in New England. I am sure I'll soon start seeing 'em pink stalks at the community farm stand and this year a friend of mine is growing it too. Chutney and panhe, both are in the cards :)

evolvingtastes said...

sra, I feel like such a pioneer. I searched around to see if anyone had said something similar before, but didn't find anything.

Anjali, I too was thinking that this would be more of a ‘ladies drink’ because of the color, but one of my guy friends was over recently, and he asked for seconds, and even thirds! He is from India originally, but not a Maharashtrian, so I don’t think there was much of a Panha nostalgia factor either.

Anita, almost.I am doubtful if it would be a substitute to make all our favorite pickles and chutneys, but this is good for now.

Mints, let me know how it works out.

Priya, good to see you here after a long time. Let me know if you try out either.

TheHeirloomEssence said...

looks so good! I am definitely going to try this one!

evolvingtastes said...

HeirloomEssence, welcome here! Let me know if you try it out.

purplesque said...

Panha- oh God how I miss panha. Thank you for posting this.

evolvingtastes said...

purplesque, welcome here! I thought you moved back to India - in which case you will have access to raw mangoes to make panha, and if you are back here, then try this colorful version with rhubarb!

MizThreefivesix said...

Very pretty! I had a rhubarb syrup disaster last year, it all went mouldy within a couple of weeks. I did wash the bottles with hot water!

evolvingtastes said...

356 Tage, that is disheartening. I haven't ever made enough to store it for a long time, but if I do, I will add a touch of salt and lemon.

MizThreefivesix said...

I might try that next time. Here in Germany we make a lot of Elderflower cordial, and it's usually preserved with citronic acid (sounds poisonous but is apparently ok) and that seems to work, too. I forgot to add it to my rhubarb syrup.

sangeeta said...

What a lovely blog. Liked this idea of a pink Panha. Refreshing it looks and the picture is wonderful.

You Semolina cake looks interesting too.

Home Mantra said...

Happy to nominate you for Leibster award! Do check my post

evolvingtastes said...

Radhika, thanks so much; I appreciate it! I finally had a chance to respond to you.

evolvingtastes said...

Sangeeta, welcome to my blog!

Jaya M said...

So glad to find a nice blog with some real good food..actually the layout is clutter free, makes me feel so relaxed..good to find you evolving taste..hugs

evolvingtastes said...

Jaya, thanks for your kind words! Welcome to my blog, hope to see you around here.

Jess said...


Unknown said...

This sounds so delicious and refreshing! What a great idea for a summer cocktail!
Katie x

evolvingtastes said...

Katie, welcome here! This does indeed make for a lovely summer drink.

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