Shikanji, the Ayurvedic Mojito: What Is It and How to Prepare It?
Shikanji, also called Shikanjabeen or Nimbu Shikanji, is a lemon and spice-based drink typical of India and northern Pakistan. In the West, it’s known as “the Ayurvedic mojito”, comparing it to the traditional cocktail.
However, it doesn’t contain alcohol and its ingredients offer some health benefits. In addition, it’s considered a good thirst quencher, as it hydrates and refreshes at the same time. How is it prepared?
What is Shikanji?
Some people know Shikanji as ‘spiced Indian lemonade’, ‘Ayurvedic lemonade’, or ‘Ayurvedic mojito’. This is because it’s a lemon-based drink, in which spices such as cumin powder, black pepper, mint, ginger, and chaat masala (an Indian spice) are also added.
In fact, in its countries of origin, India and Pakistan, a homemade powder called Shikanji Masala is then added to this drink. In order to do this, various ground spices, such as whole coriander seeds, cumin seeds and whole black peppercorns, are roasted and ground.
It’s then combined with chaat masala, black salt, and common salt. In addition to this, mineral water or a carbonated soft drink and ice cubes are used. The result? A refreshing drink, full of flavor, which also provides some nutrients.
Read more: Garam Masala: What It Is and How to Make It
Potential benefits of Shikanji
As a traditional drink, Shikanji is linked to a variety of health benefits. However, it’s important to note that to date there’s no scientific research to support its properties. The effects attributed to it come largely from popular literature and anecdotal data.
In this vein, it’s said to be useful for the following:
- Weight loss
- Stimulation of digestion
- Cardiovascular health
- Prevention of infections
- Skin and capillary health
However, some of its effects are based on the nutritional value contained in its main ingredients. Lemon, for example, stands out for its abundant content of vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, B complex vitamins, magnesium, and calcium.
A study shared via BMC Chemistry states that it also contains flavonoids, alkaloids, coumarins, limonoids, and essential oils that are beneficial to the body. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, digestive, and immunomodulatory effects are attributed to it.
Ayurvedic spices have micronutrients and antioxidants that are valued in traditional medicine. A review reported in Current Cardiology Reviews states that their caloric content is low and they’re an interesting source of antioxidants and bioactive compounds.
To be more precise, they have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative and antihypercholesterolemic potential. According to this publication, they’re useful in promoting heart health.
There are no studies that concretely evaluate the effects of this drink. In addition, it should be considered that it contains sugar, which may be counterproductive in some people, such as those with metabolic syndrome.
Find out more: How Do We Metabolize Excess Sugar?
Does Shikanji support weight loss?
It’s claimed that the ingredients used in this Indian beverage are useful in supporting weight loss. However, this isn’t entirely true. While lemon and spices are considered healthy, the recipe includes added sugar.
According to information from Nutrients magazine, the consumption of sugars predisposes to increased adiposity, increased body weight and, ultimately, overweight and obesity.
That doesn’t mean that drinking Shikanji leads to weight gain as such. As long as its consumption is moderate, it has a place in the diet. Still, if you’re following a weight loss plan, it’s best avoided.
Is Shikanji a good choice for hydration?
Shikanji may not support weight loss as some claim. However, it is considered a good choice for hydration. Since it combines salt, spices (which provide micronutrients), water and sugar, it helps replenish fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat and urine.
How to prepare Shikanji at home?
There are many versions of the recipe for preparing Shikanji. As mentioned above, some are made with homemade Shikanji Masala powder, which can be prepared or purchased ready-made on the market. Other methods use the spices in their natural form. We’re suggesting the latter. Let’s get to work!
- 2 lemons
- 500 milliliters of water
- 1/2 tablespoon of cumin powder (2 grams)
- 1 pinch of black pepper powder
- 1/2 tablespoon salt (2 grams)
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (15 grams, optional)
- 1 pinch of grated ginger
- 50 grams of powdered ginger
- 4 mint or mint leaves
- To begin with, squeeze the juice of two lemons into a pitcher. Then add the water.
- Next, add the salt, cumin, pepper, sugar, finely chopped mint, and grated ginger.
- Stir the ingredients well until they’re well integrated.
- Add ice to taste and serve.
- Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.
Note: You can omit the use of sugar to make the drink healthier or if you can’t consume sugar.
Shikanji is refreshing and hydrating
Shikanji is a drink of Ayurvedic origin that combines the flavor of lemon with several healthy spices. Ingested in moderate amounts, it can be a good option to hydrate and quench thirst on hot days.
The original recipe contains added sugar, so it isn’t suitable for people with diabetes, excess weight, obesity, or any condition associated with metabolic syndrome. However, it can be prepared without added sugar.
Why not give it a go?It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Anju, & Idris, M. (2020). Shikanji or Sikanjabeen – A Unani Pharmacopoeial Dosage Form. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research, 10, 304-309. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Shikanji-or-Sikanjabeen-A-Unani-Pharmacopoeial-Form-Anju-Idris/75c95f419e5d615d64dc7aaad32df06d29b3268b
Lv, X., Zhao, S., Ning, Z., Zeng, H., Shu, Y., Tao, O., Xiao, C., Lu, C., & Liu, Y. (2015). Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health. Chemistry Central journal, 9, 68. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690266/
Rippe, J. M., & Angelopoulos, T. J. (2016). Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients, 8(11), 697. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133084/
- Vasanthi, H. R., & Parameswari, R. P. (2010). Indian spices for healthy heart – an overview. Current cardiology reviews, 6(4), 274–279. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083808/