Aam panna is made with unripe or semi-ripe mangoes. It is a slightly tart, salty and sweet drink that is helpful for maintaining a good balance of electrolytes and hydrating summer months. According to wikipedia aam panna contains multiple vitamins such as B, C and Niacin. It also contains sodium chloride (from salt) and sugar that work similarly to ORS.
Salt + Sugar + Water = Basic Rehydrating Formula that saves lives
Have you heard of it before? If you grew up in India, you’ve likely seen ads about ORS solutions. There are research papers by the Gates Foundation, WHO, Indian Institute of Management Indore and other public health scholars about the role of hydration, specifically ORS in reducing the burden of diarrheal deaths in developing countries, specially among infants. Making a drink such as aam panna was just a simple, seasonal way of stying hydrated and keeping that salt-sugar balance right in the body. Of course, when someone makes it at home there is much more than just sugar and salt in the drink. Read on for the recipe!
Indian Ads – Creativity on Steroids!
Indian advertising agencies are a powerhouse of creativity. Whether it is TV, radio, print or now, social media, they are always ahead of the game. Prior to the 1990’s media had been state owned. With the economic opening up of the 1990’s corporate players joined in and all the pent up creativity came tumbling out in gems that I can still parrot out today. Here’s a sampling of some of those ads and a great article in the Hindu Bussinessline about the next phase of this industry on the internet. Anyway, why am I going on and on about ads? Well, ORS. So many public health education campaigns from that era are still relevant and link back to our traditional eating habits. So back to Aam Panna, a typical summer drink that will help you beat the summer heat!
Beat the summer heat with Aam Panna!
With a few simple pantry ingredients and basic utensils and tools you’ll have this drink ready in no time!
- Unripe or semi-ripe Mangoes 2 to 3 (use Tommy Atkins in the US)
- Sugar 7-8 tbsp (adjust to taste)
- Salt 1 to 2 tsp (adjust to taste)
- Kala Namak / Rock Salt 1/2 to 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
- Mint leaves 10-15, roughly chopped
- Black pepper, a few cracks
- Cumin powder, a pinch (OPTIONAL)
- Red chili powder, a pinch (cayenne or milder- OPTIONAL)
Let’s make Aam Panna:
- Step one is to wash the mangoes. In the US, I recommend using Tommy Atkins that are usually red and green when unripe and turn yellow as they ripen. Pick hard mangoes with red-green skin. Wash and pat dry.
- Cook the mangoes – roast or boil. This is the only cooking involved in making aam panna. It helps soften the flesh and release all the flavors. I prefer roasting mangoes which is best done on a flame or grill. But if either is unavailable, like me, use the broiler in the oven. Turn on the boiler and keep mangoes on a shelf in the top 1/3rd of the oven. Check and turn the mangoes until both sides are cooked and blackened but not burnt. If this isn’t an option, then boil the mangoes in a pot with plenty of water.
- Cool and peel the mangoes. Then scrape off all the pulp. I use my hands to squeeze out all the pulp and juice or as much as I can. If you find that too yucky or slippery to manage, just slice the pulp off with a knife and then scrape off as much as you can using a fork being careful not too pull too many of the hair.
- After this it’s time to mix and blend everything.
- I like to work when the pulp is still warm. That way the sugar melts quickly and it becomes a thick syrup of mango. Put all the pulp, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Then using an immersion blender, blend it all. Finally, add mint leaves and blend again. The mix will become a bright yellow-green color. Taste test and adjust salt and sugar. You can also spice it up with some ground roasted cumin and a pinch of cayenne or other mild chili. Allow this to cool and then jar in a clean glass bottle, bowl or even a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Usually lasts about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator, if you don’t finish it before that!
- If on the other hand you would rather cool the mango before blending and mixing, then put all the pulp in a saucepan. Warming up later will help dissolve all the sugar. Add sugar, salt, pepper and chili (if using). Using an immersion blender blend everything. Then warm it up on low heat. Stir to mix all the sugar and turn off the heat. Let this cool and finally add mint leaves and blend one last time.
- That’s it! Aam panna is ready to use. You can make a glass right away. Add one and a half tablespoons of the concentrate per 8 ounce glass, pour chilled water and stir well to combine. Adjust salt or sugar as needed. Add some ice if you want it colder.
Mango is a delicious fruit and much loved in the Indian subcontinent. From making chutneys during the summer, to drinking it in various forms – mango shakes, slushies, aam panna, tossing it in salads to pickling and bottling its goodness for later, traditional recipes use Aam i.e. Mango to the hilt! If you can still grab some in-season mangoes, make sure to enjoy their sweet-tart goodness while it lasts.
Aam Panna Recipe – Homemade Indian Mango Drink
- Immersion or Jar Blender
- Oven broliler
- 2-3 Unripe or semi-ripe Mangoes use Tommy Atkins in the US
- 7-8 Tbsp Sugar Adjust to taste
- 1-2 tsp Salt Adjust to taste
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Kala Namak / Rock Salt Adjust to taste
- 10-15 Mint leaves Cleaned and roughly chopped
- Black pepper
- Pinch Cumin powder Optional
- Pinch Red chili powder Cayenne or milder, Optional
- Step one is to wash the mangoes.Pick hard mangoes with red-green skin. Wash and pat dry.
- Cook the mangoes – roast or boil. This is the only cooking involved in making aam panna. Roast on fire or in the oven under broiler until skin starts to char. Or boil in a pot of water.
- Cool and peel the mangoes. Then scrape off all the pulp. Use hands to pulp or just slice the pulp off with a knife and then scrape off as much as you can using a fork being careful not too pull too many of the hair.
- While still warm, transfer all the pulp to a deep bowl, season and add mint. Then blend with an immersion blender.
- If working with pulp after it cools, transfer to a saucepan, add salt and sugar and blend. Then warm up for a minute to dissolve all the sugar. Take off the heat and proceed to add mint and blend again.
- Cool completely before storing in an air tight jar or bottle. Keep refrgerated and use within 3 weeks.
- To drink, add 1 to 2 tbsp per glass, mix water, stir. Adjust salt and sugar. Add ice if needed.