Are you ready for a thirst quenching flavor this summer unlike any you’ve ever had?
I was introduced to jal jeera soda last year. It’s a soda variety in India that is often made at home and carbonated with club soda. The spices in the blend are rather extensive and people usually just buy it pre-made from an Indo-Pak grocery. MDH is a popular brand available on Amazon.
My taste buds didn’t know what to make of it the first time a friend offered me a glass. I never had soda with cumin in it before (“jal jeera” literally translates as cumin water, by the way), besides the many other ingredients that are packed into the jal jeera masala spice blend.
After a few tries, like my Indian friend who’s been drinking it most of his life, I started finding myself craving it all the time. It has a crisp, savory, and tart flavor, with a hint of spicy heat, all rolled into one.
The day it dawned on me to turn it into a ginger bug recipe was like a hundred light bulbs went off.
Although his version is completely unsweetened (with the exception of whatever natural sugar is in the lime), I knew for a fermented soda to work, there would need to be some source of sugar. I wanted to stay as true to my friend’s version as possible, so I halved my typical sugar level for ginger bug sodas. Let’s also bear in mind some of the sugar would be consumed in the process of fermentation.
The end result was something very true to my friend’s method of preparing this drink. Because the wort was also boiled and then heavily strained, this version has much less of a sediment mouth feel from the spices and black pepper.
In short, this is going to be the drink to beat this summer! It’s hard to imagine something more satisfying right now.
With no further ado, here’s the simple but delicious recipe for a liter bottle.
You will need:
- Liter fliptop bottle
- Medium saucepan, cover, & wooden spoon
- Fine mesh strainer
- Measuring cups & spoons (also suggested: 4-cup measuring container with spout)
- Bottling funnel
- Suggested: citrus juice press
- 3.75 cups filtered or distilled water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 TBSP jal jeera powder
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1.5 tsp additive-free salt
- Juice of around 2 limes (1/4 cup juice)
- 1/4 cup ginger bug starter culture
For a really strong version try doubling the jal jeera powder and using 1 TBSP of black pepper! I loved it this way too.
1.) In the saucepan, combine the water, sugar, jal jeera powder, black pepper, and salt. Turn heat on high and stir periodically as you bring the liquid to a boil.
2.) Once boiling, turn heat to low; simmer covered for around 5-7 minutes.
3.) After the allotted time, remove from heat and allow liquid to come to room temperature on its own. Keep the cover on.
4.) In the meantime, squeeze the limes and reserve the juice.
5.) Once the jal jeera liquid is room temperature, using the mesh strainer, work between the 4-cup container and saucepan to strain the liquid several times. Although you may not strain out all of the spice sediment, you can remove most of it.
6.) Using the bottling funnel, pour the ginger bug starter culture into the bottle first. Next, pour in the lime juice. Then fill the bottle with the jal jeera liquid until you reach about 2″ from the top of the bottle. If there is any extra jal jeera liquid, you may drink it!
7.) The exact ferment length depends somewhat on ambient temperatures; however, a good rule of thumb is to let it sit at room temp for about three days. Then allow to refrigerate overnight.
When opening, unlatch the fliptop but press down on the top so that the gas is released slowly.
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