About this dish
Aam (Mango) Panna (drink) is a seasonal drink prepared in most Punjabi homes during the hot summer season as a lemonade style drink. Raw green mangoes are preserved into a syrup-like concentrate together with sugar and then this mixed together with water and ice to prepare the refreshing cooler.
Raw mangoes in India make an appearance at vegetable and fruit vendors at the beginning of the summer season, often being the mangoes that fell off the trees too early. There are different varieties of raw mangoes and they vary in size, shape and flavour. At this stage, their flesh is white and very firm and are very sour to taste. They have various uses like being added to curries and dals as a souring agent (instead of say, tamarind), mango pickle, chutneys and this typical refreshing cooler. In fact, in India, we seldom cook savoury dishes with ripe mangoes, but these raw mangoes make a frequent appearance in the kitchen when they are in season.
If you cannot get your hands on raw green mangoes however, unripe mangoes that you would find in supermarkets can be used too, you just have to compensate for the missing acidity in these almost ripe mangoes with lime juice. Without the acidity, this drink would be only sweet and one dimensional.
Sugar in this recipe is used as a preservative for the mangoes and is a necessary addition when using raw green mangoes because they have no sweetness at all. The amount of sugar you will need to add depends on the type of mangoes you are using. When my mother makes Aam Panna with raw green mangoes, she uses 50% sugar to the weight of mangoes, so this would mean 500g sugar if you are using 1kg of mangoes. This might sound like a lot, however since this is a preserved concentrate, you only use a couple of tablespoons per glass of Aam Panna. This of it as you'd be making simple syrup or lemon cordial. However, we are using unripe mangoes commonly available in supermarkets here in Berlin and thus need less sugar in comparison. We recommend starting with less and then adding more depending on how sour your mangoes are.
A lot of recipes for Aam Panna add many different spices to the mix like cumin, black pepper and black salt. More common variants of the beverage are a sweet-salty version, however, my favourite version is sweet and simple with only mint and ginger as added flavourings. I find this to be much more refreshing when compared to salty variants that contain cumin. However, if you're looking to experiment, you can also add some roasted cumin seeds and black salt to the blend.
- 800g raw green mangoes or unripe mangoes
- 250g to 400g fine sugar
- 12-15g fresh mint leaves
- 50g ginger
- 50-120 ml lime juice
- Wash the mangoes well and then cook them in their skins as you would potatoes. You can boil them, steam them or cook them in a pressure cooker with a little water. They need to be completely soft and cooked through. Then set them aside to cool.
- Once the mangoes are cool enough to handle, separate their pulp from their skins and seeds.
- Blend together the mango pulp together with the ginger, mint leaves and sugar into the smooth consistency. Start with about 250g of sugar, taste and add more if needed. The amount of sugar depends on how sour your mangoes are. The concentrate should taste jam-like and should be on the sweeter side as it will later be diluted with water.
- Depending on whether your mangoes are sour or not you may also have to add lime juice for added acidity. Our mangoes from the supermarket weren't sour at all, so we added 120ml of lime juice to the mix. The resulting concentrate should be sweet and tangy, if there isn't enough acid in the concentrate, the resulting drink would not be refreshing.
- Tasting and adjusting the flavours is an important aspect of this recipe, and you should look out for a balance between the sweet and sour, in the concentrate, and keep in mind that it should be a little more sweet and sour to the tongue when you taste it as it will be diluted later-on.
- Once the ingredients are all blended together in a thick smooth paste, transfer to a clean glass jar.
This concentrate makes around 12 glasses of Aam Panna can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
To prepare the Aam Panna, mix the concentrate with water and top with ice. This concentrate is thicker and jammier than a typical syrup and is best mixed in water with a whisk or a blender. You can also blend it together with crushed ice to make a margarita style drink.