01 July 2008

An Icy Passage to India

I know my stance may be confusing at times- should iced tea be sweetened or not?- but the reality is that both, like the Wakefield twins of Sweet Valley, are delicious in their own way.

A mislabeled jar that I spotted on my disappointing Brooklyn iced-tea crawl was the inspiration for this brilliant new blend: one shop had a small sign with "lime-coconut" printed on it, in front of the brewed black iced tea.

The person in line ahead of me asked the question I was wondering, "Is that lime-coconut tea?"

Of course not. It was overbrewed, blah, bagged English Breakfast, nothing more.

It stuck in my mind, though, and as the heat and humidity have shown no signs of abating, I started thinking obsessively (the best way to do it) about what lime-coconut iced tea would taste like.

Memories of my last coconut cracking still fresh (a.k.a. rotting, oily coconut water sprayed all over me and my kitchen), I desired something a bit simpler, but still seasonal, tropical and refreshing. And then I remembered a recipe in the garrulous Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook, in the extensive drinks section- a lime-ginger sharbat, or flavored syrup, from India, which is often used as a base for cooling drinks.

I'd loved it mixed with both still and sparkling water, but what about pairing it with tea?

Darjeeling, an Indian black, was my tea of choice. I figured it would be strong enough to stand up to the concentrated flavors of the sharbat, but just floral enough to complement the fruity, fragrant tones of the lime and ginger- classic Indian flavorings beyond just drinks.

It worked even etter than I anticipated: this iced tea tastes so good, so sweet and refreshing, it will convince you to never even consider looking at the bottled stuff again.

I'd imagine it would go over swimmingly any Fourth of July cookouts, too. Since I'm not invited to any, you'll have to let me know if I'm right.

Lime-Ginger Syrup
Makes: about 3 cups.

3 cups sugar
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 7 limes)

1. Combine sugar, 1 cup of water and ginger slices in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring.

2. Lower heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add lime juice, stir, and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the liquid has turned slightly syrupy.

3. Pour into glass jars, allow to cool slightly, then cover tightly and store in refrigerator.

Get out that teapot, brew a mess of Darjeeling, mix in about 1/2 cup of the sharbat, and add some lime slices on top. Chill well, and serve over lots of ice- this is strong stuff.


Anonymous said...

Do you want to come to my fourth of july party?

ana dane said...

oh, thanks. can you pick me up? and drive me back home?

you're the best.

Teep said...

speaking of lime/coconut - the enormous room serves a *delightful* cocktail called "Grass Stained Knees" that is basically a lime rickey spiked with coconut rum.

I go there for one (they are 8.50$!) after my Monday night softball games... since we play our games on astroturf, it's the only place for me to get my knees stained grassy.

I digress, but all this is true.