I was introduced to a galaxy of new soda flavors and concepts earlier this year when someone I know from India shared with me his jal jeera soda. This is normally a fizzy drink consisting of jal jeera powder, salt, lime, black pepper, and club soda. It, as well as a seemingly infinite number of variations, are exceedingly popular in India.
To be honest, there was a certain smell it had that I was initially turned off by. But the drink maybe still had a kind of weird draw for me, so I accepted it several more times. As I learned in college, when I was fed kimchi every day by a Korean family I worked for, you really can develop a taste for things you’re not used to and maybe even a little repulsed by.
And what was the smell I noticed? The culprit was Indian black salt, aka kala namak. Like Himalayan Pink salt (which is harvested in the same region), besides sodium chloride, it is rich in trace minerals. One of them is sulfur, and it provides this salt with its distinctive smell.
Apparently, this salt is rapidly gaining popularity in contemporary cuisines, even among some vegan chefs who want to impart an egg flavor to certain dishes.
I know, I know. A sulfury/eggy soda?! But it doesn’t taste like that to me anymore. It is a refreshing, spicy drink and I can’t imagine it without the black salt now. I love it!
However, if you want to try this soda without the black salt, then just replace it with Himalayan salt. Or even good ol’ canning & pickling salt. (Just don’t use any salt with additives.)
My friend was mystified by my transformation of this type of drink into a ginger bug soda. Alas, I feel pretty creative and haven’t found similar recipes online. I plan to make all that change!
This recipe is not for a ginger bug jal jeera, but that recipe is coming. This recipe is similar to many Indian drinks using chaat masala powder, which is another spice mix that has black salt in it. Both chaat masala and jal jeera powder have black salt and some other interesting ingredients in common, such as sour mango powder.
I look forward to experimenting further with these spices. Perhaps a chaat masala sauerkraut is in order?!
Well, let’s get started.
You will need:
- Saucepan and wooden spoon
- Fliptop liter bottle
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Bottling funnel
- 4 cups distilled or filtered water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (can substitute with white)
- 1/4 cup mint (~5g)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 TBSP grated ginger
- 1 tsp chaat masala powder
- 1/2 tsp black salt (or substitute Himalayan Pink or other natural salt)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup active ginger bug starter culture
1.) Combine all the ingredients (except the ginger bug starter liquid) in the saucepan and bring to a low boil. Then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep covered, remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. (Can cool in refrigerator to expedite process.)
2.) Once cooled, pass the liquid through the strainer several times, until all solids and as much sediment as possible has been removed.
3.) Using the bottling funnel, transfer the active ginger bug liquid to the bottle. Then add the cooled liquid to within about 2″ from the top. (There may be some excess, which you can drink!) Seal and let sit at room temperature for about 3 days. Refrigerate overnight and then it’s ready.
Be careful when unsealing. Press down on the top as it is unlatched in order to avoid potential spillover. Release the gas slowly.
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Fantastic !!!! Like always 👏👏👏
Very interesting. I did a variation eg by just blending the ginger with water in the blender and adding the remaining ingredients. When you open the bottle in 4 to 5 days you get a lovely cloudy ginger ale.
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