Raspberry Meyer Lemonade with Sweet Basil seeds and Brown Sugar
Ever since I discovered them early last year, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with them. They are without a doubt, a thing of beauty in themselves, in their vibrant color, dainty ambrosial aroma and a sweeter, quaint citrus taste.
An infinitesimal inhalation of their fragrance is enough to freshen one up. I am confessing my love (yet again) for none other than the golden offspring of lemon and (presumably) mandarin orange, the exotic sunshine fruit of california, Meyer Lemons.
If you give them a tiny chance in your kitchen, surely, you will too!
Be forewarned though, once you are hooked on to their ethereal perfume and resplendent looks, don’t blame me, if you start looking down upon the regular “run off the mill” lemons for which I will only respond with “I told you so..”
I’d say, when life hands you Meyer Lemons, life is beautiful..
Though these lemony beauties peak in winter, sometimes if you are lucky, you might find them in Whole Foods up until end of April or early May, like I did last year.
So, lose no time to revel in their goodness now.. So, if you have a backyard, a tiny garden, or even a balcony, just spare the much ignored corner for a meyer lemon tree for a long lasting gratification..
With spring gone in the first couple of weeks of its arrival, April afternoons already feel more like a trailer of blazing summer from June, where I live in Texas. Don’t even get me thinking on what August might have in store!
While making lemonade out of Meyer Lemons was the most fool proof idea to cool off, like I made Meyer Lemon Paanaka in Indian style last summer, this time, it seemed fascinating to combine it with the natural pink of raspberries and some fun textured Tukmaria for an almost dreamy, amber colored cooling drink I could ever imagine.
Forget herbs or spices to flavor, if you allow the perfumania of meyer lemons to steal the show!
My discovery of Tukmaria (pronounced “Took-maria”) was through my mom-in-law when she came to visit us last year. While we walked the aisles of the Indian grocery store in exploration of new spices, I was intrigued by its strange sounding name. And it was from her, I learnt that it is used most commonly in Falooda (a persian dessert, introduced to India by the Mughals) and that it is a natural coolant as well.After some time consuming research (aka googling), I also learnt that, Tukmaria (in Hindi) is the seed of the Sweet Basil plant also known as St. John’s wort in European countries. It is not the same as Holy basil or Tulsi, though it looks similar.
And, through a friend, I realized that sweet basil is the same as “Kaama Kasturi” (kannada) – the sweet clove scented fragrant sprig many-a-times inter sewn in jasmine (mallige) or jaaji floral strings and garlands. Those of you from Karnataka might recognize instantly. I don’t recollect any culinary use for it though, I’ve heard it to be a medicinal herb.
And, they are sold under many a names like sabja, subja, tukmaria, takmaria and falooda seeds
This site has some detailed information about the plant.
Sweet basil seeds resemble black sesame seeds in color and tear drop shape, but are clearly distinguishable as they are a wee bit smaller and plumper too. When soaked in water, they swell up and appear to be frog spawn look-a-likes. Pardon my choice for analogy, being a vegetarian! They can be compared to tiny tapioca pearls, if it gives you a better idea.
They do not have any distinct taste of their own, but their slimy jelly exterior and the nutty bite of the interior make them quite fun in a mouthful!
If you can’t find Tukamaria/Sweet basil seeds, Chia seeds make a great substitute. Why, they swell in water very much like basil seeds and they are an antioxidant powerhouse as we know it, which makes me wonder if Sweet basil seeds must be equally potent too?
Have you heard of Tukmaria before? How do you like to use Tukmaria in your recipes?
Raspberry Tukmaria Meyer Lemonade Recipe
makes 4 small glasses of lemonade
Things you’ll need:
- 4 meyer lemons
- 12 raspberries
- 6-7 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cups water