One of the great legacies of the Persian influence on India is the use of ices and sherbets throughout the North of India. The Sultans were especially fond of icy drinks combining citrus with Indian spices that according to Ayurvedic tradition conferred great health benefits to the imbiber.
This lime sharbat (the original word for sherbet, by the way) is deliciously complex and includes two different kinds of salt (in small quantities) to help bring out the sweetness. One of these is Indian black salt, which has a particularly strong smell due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide.
Indians use it for its reported health properties, but many are far less fond of it. Feel free to leave it out if you so prefer.
I’ve also added the herbaceous note of ground ajwain seeds as well to the classic recipe – well worth seeking out in any Indian grocery or again, just leave it out. The hint of salt will – like a salted caramel – prove delightfully addictive. 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
¾ cup fresh lime juice, plus sliced lime for serving
⅓ cup packed mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
⅓ cup sugar
1/8 tsp. grated kala namak (black salt; optional)
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground ajwain seed
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. freshly ground cumin
4 cups seltzer or water, chilled
Purée lime juice, mint leaves, sugar, black salt (if using), the kosher salt, kalonji, pepper, and cumin in a blender until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and top with seltzer; garnish with lime slices and mint sprigs.