Aam Panna/Panha is a popular summer cooler in the Northern parts of India. It is a lovely refreshing drink and is also known to fight the intense heat during the summer months.
Raw mango, fresh mint and some spices are used to make this healthy beverage. Back home in West Bengal it is known as the “Aam Porar Sharbat” which translates to a “cooler made from roasted mangoes.” I cherish memories of my grandma roasting the mangoes in a coal oven. While I never had the green mangoes boiled to make this drink till I came to this country where alas the traditional coal ovens were missing, it is not uncommon in the northern regions to boil them. It does work both ways, but the nice smoky touch would be missing if boiled. Walking back many years from now, we sleepy heads were often woken up after an afternoon siesta with this cool green very flavorful drink or had it like a mid morning snack.
Every ingredient here plays an important part in contributing to the taste, flavor and texture. The raw unripe mango is tart and pulpy, the mint is the usual summer favorite for the cool and the fresh, cumin makes it smoky and the rock salt adds the flavor which cannot be substituted by any other. Some like to heat it up slightly with some chili pepper, but we like to keep ours just sweet and tart.
Aam Panna/Green Mango and Mint Cooler
Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)
- 2 large raw (and unripe) mangoes
- approx. 4 glasses of water
- 1 cup crushed ice
- 1/2 cup sugar or as per your taste
- black salt/kala namak/rock salt
- 1.5 teaspoons lightly roasted cumin seeds
- 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 green chili pepper, optional
To roast the mango: Wrap the mango with a foil and roast it in the oven at 350 degree F till the flesh is soft. Alternatively (my favorite way to have it – roasting in open fire adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the drink) roast the whole mangoes over an open flame, till the skin gets charred and the flesh is soft. The charred skin peels off easily.
To boil: Pressure cook the mangoes for 1-2 whistles or for 5-8 minutes. Let the cooker cool down. OR simmer the mangoes in a pan in enough water to cover the mangoes till the flesh is soft and mushy.
The pulp of the cooked/roasted mangoes should be soft. Peel the skin and remove the flesh/pulp from the mango. I usually squeeze the pulp from the stone.
Combine rock salt, sugar, roasted cumin, chili pepper (if you are using) and mint leaves in a processor till they are powdery and smooth. Add the mango pulp to this and blend/process/puree it till smooth.
Add about 6-8 tablespoons to a glass of chilled water. Stir well and serve chilled with ice and garnish with more fresh mint.
(Alternatively if you are going to serve immediately, blend the pulp, salt, sugar, mint, cumin, water and ice together.)
You can store the extra pulp in the refrigerator up to 5-7 days in an airtight glass or plastic container.
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