During the summer season, the temperatures tend to rise, and many people search for ways to stay cool in the blazing heat. While air conditioning or a dip in the pool may be nice, keeping our bodies cool also means staying on top of our hydration levels. Since our body is made up of approximately 60% water, as we sweat, we lose water and essential electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and chloride.
Nimbu Pani is a beverage typically consumed in South Asia as a refreshing and replenishing (electrolyte) beverage, especially throughout the summer when temperatures are exceptionally high.
While most Nimbu Pani recipes traditionally add chaat masala (an Indian spice blend) or other similar spices, it is unnecessary and can be left out when making the drink.
Nimbu Pani is highly beneficial to your health, providing antioxidants and electrolytes and promoting healthy digestion (while flushing toxins out of the body).
While temperatures have increased worldwide, South Asia (no stranger to heatwaves) has a quick, easy staple beverage that makes triple-digit summers much more tolerable.
What is Nimbu Pani?
Nimbu Pani is an Indian-style lemonade; the name translates to lemon water in Hindi (Nimbu, meaning lemon, and Pani, meaning water). Nimbu Pani is also known as shikanji, but shikanji is slightly different as it uses more spices, such as cumin powder and sparkling water or soda.
Some Nimbu Pani recipes use lime as an alternative to lemon, and either lemon or lime will work great for this beverage. Traditional Nimbu Pani comprises just a few simple ingredients: water, lemon, salt, sugar, spices, and mint. The result is a sour, tangy, and salty beverage.
Making Nimbu Pani
Here is a simple and fast way to make Nimbu Pani:
Ingredients for Nimbu Pani:
- 2.5 cups of cold water.
- 3–4 tablespoons of lemon juice (approximately 1–3 lemons).
- 2–3 tablespoons of sugar (or sweetener of choice), to taste.
- 0.25 teaspoon of Kala Namak (Himalayan black salt).
- 0.25 teaspoon of chaat masala (Indian spice blend made of cumin, coriander, pepper, dry mango powder, and salt).
- Mint for garnish (optional).
- Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a large bowl. Use a strainer to avoid seeds. To get the maximum juice out of your lemons, it helps to use a lemon squeezer or press and roll each one beforehand.
- Next, add sugar (to taste), Kala Namak, and chaat masala. Mix all of the ingredients together and then add in the cold water.
- Use a wire whisk to stir all your ingredients until the sugar dissolves and everything is well combined.
- Once the dry ingredients have dissolved and the Nimbu Pani is ready to drink, pour the beverage into a pitcher and serve it in individual glasses. Garnish with fresh mint leaves (optional).
Tips for the perfect Nimbu Pani
Keep these three hacks in mind when preparing Nimbu Pani.
1. Always use fresh lemon (or lime) juice
Nimbu Pani is a refreshing beverage and is meant to be served with fresh juice, so if possible, avoid any bottled juice as it will affect the taste of your drink.
2. Sweetness is optional
Most recipes include a small amount of sugar, but it is optional, so if you prefer a more tangy, sour Nimbu Pani, feel free to opt out of the sugar. You can also use alternative sweeteners, including coconut sugar, simple syrup, and maple syrup. (Just be aware that darker sweeteners like maple syrup will also change the color of your drink.)
3. Make it ahead of time
If you’re having a get-together or know you have a couple of scorching days ahead of you, Nimbu Pani is extremely easy to make ahead of time and pop in the fridge for later. It will also allow the ingredients to brew together, creating a more intense flavor. Be sure not to add ice if you prep it ahead, as it will water down your drink.
Nutrition benefits of Nimbu Pani
The benefits of Nimbu Pani are endless.
Provides Vitamin C
Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, carrying 53 mg per 100, according to the USDA. This is more than half of the recommended dietary allowance, and consuming lemon juice may significantly improve heart health, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke, and more.
Loaded with electrolytes
In addition to Vitamin C providing an antioxidant, the beverage contains potassium, sodium, and magnesium — three electrolytes that are heavily depleted when we become dehydrated and sweat. Lemon water has a high potassium level (which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure), and the two different types of salt in the drink help replenish sodium levels.
Promotes healthy digestion
Alongside flushing out toxins, Nimbu Pani is an excellent drink to promote healthy digestion thanks to several ingredients. Lemon, chaat masala, and water are all great for healthy digestion and keeping things moving throughout the body. Kala Namak (Himalayan black salt) is also beneficial and can relieve symptoms such as gas, bloating, and heartburn.
Nimbu Pani may be native to the South Asia region, but it’s one beverage that can be utilized around the world not only on unbearably hot days but as a practical option any time of year. It has made an impact as a refreshing drink with additional health benefits to rehydrate and replenish essential nutrients. Whether you like your Nimbu Pani extra tangy with chaat masala or balanced out with additional sweetener, this is one recipe that offers flexibility for everyone to make their own.
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Citrus Flavanones: What Is Their Role in Cardiovascular Protection?
- Nature Communications. The Most At-Risk Regions in the World for High-Impact Heatwaves.
- USGS. The Water in You: Water and the Human Body.