Shikanji: A Refreshing Drink To Beat The Summer Heat

As the temperatures soar and the sun blazes overhead, finding ways to stay cool and hydrated becomes a priority.

One of the most delightful and effective ways to beat the summer heat is with a glass of Shikanji, a traditional Indian lemonade. This refreshing drink is not only incredibly thirst-quenching but also packed with flavors and nutrients that make it a perfect choice for hot summer days.

The Origins of Shikanji

Shikanji, also known as Shikanjvi, has its roots in North India, where it has been enjoyed for centuries as a go-to summer beverage. The name “Shikanji” is derived from the Persian word “shikanj,” meaning a drink made from lime or lemon. This tangy, spicy, and sweet drink has been a staple in Indian households, especially during the scorching summer months.

Why Shikanji is the Perfect Summer Drink

Shikanji is not just any ordinary lemonade; it is a well-balanced concoction that combines the tanginess of lemons or limes with the earthy flavor of roasted cumin powder, the kick of black salt, and the sweetness of sugar or honey. The addition of mint leaves adds a cooling effect, making it an ideal drink to refresh and rejuvenate.

Health Benefits of Shikanji

  1. Hydration: The primary ingredient of Shikanji is water, which helps keep you hydrated. Proper hydration is essential in maintaining body temperature and overall health during the hot summer months.
  2. Vitamin C: Lemons and limes are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system, aids in digestion, and improves skin health.
  3. Electrolyte Balance: The addition of black salt and regular salt in Shikanji helps maintain the electrolyte balance in the body, preventing dehydration and muscle cramps.
  4. Digestive Aid: The roasted cumin powder and black salt are known for their digestive properties, helping to soothe the stomach and aid in digestion.
  5. Cooling Effect: Mint leaves not only add a refreshing flavor but also have a cooling effect on the body, making Shikanji an excellent drink to combat the summer heat.

How to Make Shikanji

Making Shikanji at home is simple and requires just a few ingredients. Here’s an easy recipe to follow:


  • 1 liter of cold water
  • 4-5 lemons or limes
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar or honey (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black salt (kala namak)
  • A pinch of regular salt
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Ice cubes (optional)


  1. Prepare the Lemons/Limes: Roll the lemons or limes on a flat surface to loosen the juice. Cut them in half and extract the juice into a bowl, removing any seeds.
  2. Mix the Ingredients: In a large jug, combine the lemon or lime juice with cold water. Add the sugar or honey and stir until fully dissolved.
  3. Add the Spices: Stir in the roasted cumin powder, black salt, and a pinch of regular salt. Mix well to ensure the spices are evenly distributed.
  4. Add Mint Leaves: Tear the mint leaves slightly to release their flavor and add them to the jug. Give the mixture a good stir.
  5. Serve: Fill glasses with ice cubes (if using) and pour the Shikanji over the ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime and a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.

Variations of Shikanji

One of the great things about Shikanji is its versatility. You can easily tweak the recipe to suit your taste preferences or add a twist to the traditional version:

  • Spicy Shikanji: Add a pinch of black pepper or a small piece of crushed green chili to give your Shikanji a spicy kick.
  • Fruit-Infused Shikanji: Add a splash of fruit juice, such as orange, pineapple, or watermelon, for a fruity twist.
  • Herbal Shikanji: Incorporate other herbs like basil or cilantro for a unique flavor profile.
  • Sparkling Shikanji: Use sparkling water instead of regular water for a fizzy, effervescent drink.

Tips for Making the Perfect Shikanji

  • Use Fresh Lemons/Limes: Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice is key to a flavorful Shikanji. Avoid using bottled juice as it lacks the vibrant taste of fresh citrus.
  • Adjust Sweetness: The amount of sugar or honey can be adjusted according to your preference. If you prefer a less sweet drink, reduce the amount of sweetener.
  • Chill the Water: Using cold water ensures that your Shikanji is immediately refreshing. You can also chill the mixture in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Roast the Cumin: Roasting cumin seeds before grinding them into powder enhances their flavor and adds a depth of taste to the drink.
  • Experiment with Garnishes: Adding different garnishes like lemon slices, mint sprigs, or even edible flowers can make your Shikanji more visually appealing and enjoyable.


Shikanji is more than just a drink; it’s a tradition, a cultural staple, and a delicious way to stay cool during the hot summer months. With its perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors, Shikanji is sure to become your go-to beverage when the temperatures rise. Not only is it incredibly refreshing, but it also offers numerous health benefits, making it a smart and tasty choice for beating the heat.

Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with different variations, Shikanji is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed by everyone. So the next time you feel the summer heat bearing down, whip up a batch of Shikanji and savor the refreshing goodness of this timeless Indian lemonade.

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