I usually prepare paanakam on the eve of Sri Rama Navami festival as offering (naivedyam/prasadam). I remember my aunts preparing this paanakam for the workers during summer once they return from their work in fields. Paanakam is served to them as the thirst quencher. This drink can also be served as summer cooler. Use jaggery only to prepare paanakam. Jaggery is a healthy alternative for refined white sugar. Diabetics have to use it carefully as it causes sudden rise in blood sugar levels. Click here for the nutritional facts about jaggery. Pepper and sonti are traditionally recommended in Ayurveda to heal ailments of the stomach and throat and as remedies for cold and cough.
Water: 1/2 liter
Grated Jaggery: 4 tablespoons; adjust as per your taste
Pepper Powder: 1 teaspoon; adjust as per your taste
Cardamom Powder: 1 big pinch
Sonti (Dry Ginger Powder): 1 pinch (Optional)
Lime Juice: 1-2 tablespoon; adjust as per your taste
1. Mix grated jaggery in water and let it dissolve completely.
2. Filter with the help of a muslin cloth to remove the impurities from jaggery.
3. Add cardamom powder, sonti, pepper powder and lime juice to jaggery water and mix well.
4. Serve it at room temperature or chilled.
NOTE: Try to chill paanakam using a clay pot (kadava/kunda) rather than fridge as it further enhances the taste. Otherwise you can use the water from clay pot for preparation.
JAGGERY FACTS: Jaggery is a traditional unrefined whole cane sugar consumed in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a concentrated product of cane juice without separation of the molasses and crystals. Jaggery varied from golden brown to dark brown in color. It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, moisture content of up to 20%, and the remainder made up of other insoluble matter such as wood ash, proteins and bagasse fibers. (Source of information Wikipedia).