Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kokum Syrup

Nestled in between East 6th and 5th streets in the East Village of Manhattan is a spice lovers oasis: Dual Specialty Store. I could (and often do) lose myself in there for hours exploring the shelves lined with teas, spices, and herbs from every locale imaginable. I'm always bound to come across something new-and on my past trip this something new was Kokum. Kokum is native to India and is a member of the mangosteen family. It is lip puckeringly tart and is often used to make sherbet or in sweet curries to add a depth of flavor. I pair this syrup with seltzer to make a refreshing spritzer, or in a Kokum Cooler (recipe below). Enjoy!

Kokum Syrup

  • 1 cup dried kokum
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • pinch cumin powder (optional)
  • 5-6 cardamom pods (optional)

1. Rinse the dried kokum in warm water and let sit overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours.
2. Extract the pulp from the softened fruit by squishing them in between your fingers and discard the skins. Strain the mixture to get rid of any solid bits.
3. Boil 2 cups of water and slowly whisk sugar into it. Add kokum juice and cumin and cardamom if you are feeling daring and stir until the mixture starts to thicken-about three minutes. Remove cardamom pods, bottle and refrigerate.

Kokum Spritzer

  • 1 oz kokum syrup
  • Seltzer
  • Lemon (garnish)

Kokum Cooler 

This cocktail is the beverage of choice at the Tote on the Turf, a racetrack side restaurant in Mumbai.

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz kokum syrup
  • Lemon lime soda
  • Seltzer
  • Lemon slice (garnish)
Fill glass with ice and pour in vodka and kokum syrup. Mix well with cocktail stirrer and top with 1/2 lemon lime soda 1/2 seltzer.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Homemade Meyer Limoncello

Spring has been teasing us here in New York, one day it's a glorious 75 and the next it's raining and freezing again. On one of the more recent drearier nights I was still lit up by the thought of sunshine, barbecues, and beach fun and decided to get a head start on preparing my supplies-meaning of course it was time to infuse some booze!

Inspired by the first batch of Meyer Lemons I came across and this wonderful tutorial I decided to start with Limoncello. Meyer lemons are less acidic and sweeter than the typical lemon you find in the market, and as such their delicate more subtle flavor makes them perfect for mixing with spirits.

Here's what you will need:
-12 Meyer Lemons
-1 1/2 gallon glass jar
-Pint jar for storing lemon juice
-Knife or peeler for pithing lemons
-1.75 liters Everclear or similarly high proof alcohol
-3 cups Demerara sugar*
-4 cup water

*Demerara will alter the color of your limoncello, making it slightly darker (although the difference in flavor is worth it to me!) If you want a crisp yellow stick to super fine white sugar.

Step 1. Half the lemons and juice them, you can use the reserved juice to make popsicles or any other number of delicious treats.

Step 2. Remove as much of the pith as possible. The pith will make the infusion taste bitter if left in.

Step 3. Slice the remaining skin into two inch strips and put in 1 1/2 gallon jar. Pour alcohol over and let sit for two weeks in a cool dark place. Shake every few days to make sure the infusion is distributed. Wait two weeks.

Step 4: Make yourself a cocktail with that leftover lemon juice. You earned it!

Step 5. Make a simple syrup by mixing 3 cups sugar with 4 cups water and let it lightly boil for 5 minutes. Let cool and then add to lemon alcohol mixture. Then comes the hardest part, letting it sit again for another two weeks.

Step 6. (one month after start of process) Strain mixture to remove rind and any impurities. Bottle and store in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to enjoy.