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.