When the heat of summer approaches, the ancient texts of Ayurveda advise us to partake in sweet cooling drinks. Many pānaka are described in the pākaśāstra, texts of Ayurveda devoted to the topics of dietetics, culinary arts and the science and art of cooking (paka, S., to cook)
Pānaka (पानक, S., syrup) are drinks made with citric acid, sugar and a digestive spice. They are made through a process of cooking a fruit in water on low fire, adding sugar and specific spices, and boiling it down (decoction) until it becomes light, sticky, thin liquid syrup. These cool drinks are prepared to expel the thirst. Generally the base is an acid that the human body can digest, such as those in tamarind, lemon, green mango, coriander, and buttermilk. The process transforms its heating properties into a cooling effect through sugar and spice.
One of the most popular uses the beloved mango fruit in its unripe form. Mangoes of different species begin to fill trees throughout the tropics in March, as the heat increases. For many weeks they remain small, hard, dark green unripe fruits with a soft seed inside. Slowly, they grow into large, still-green, unripe fruits, at which time they are extremely sour. Until Akshaya Tritiya, in April or May, when they can be eaten sweet and ripe, the unripe fruits are used to make various aachaars, pickles and other preparations that utilize their medicinal benefits.
Āmra-phala-prapāṇaka is the term for pānaka that is boiled and thus called prapāṇaka; it is made from boiled green mango. In the 15th century classic Ayurvedic text Bhava Prakasha by ancient physician Bhava Misra, the recipe utilizes fresh whole green mango fruits for citric acid, clean fresh water, red cane rock sugar, camphor, and black pepper to create light, watery, zingy syrup that awakens the taste buds.
The medicinal benefits of āmra-phala-prapāṇaka are its ability to create a healthy hunger or appetite, which normally wanes in the heat of summer. The sweet-sour tangy taste enhances strength immediately in the body, and the citric acid awakens all 5 sense organs. The miracle of black pepper is due to its property of shroto-sodhana, opening and cleaning any blocked channels in the body.
आम्रमामं जले स्विन्नं मर्दितं दृढपाणिना |
सिताशीताम्बुसंयुक्तं कर्पूरमरिचान्वितम् ||१३०||
प्रपानकमिदं श्रेष्ठं भीमसेनेन निर्मितम् |
सद्यो रुचिकरं बल्यं शीघ्रमिन्द्रियतर्पणम् ||१३१||
Bhava Prakasha Nighantu, kṛtanna varga, chapter 12, slokas 130-131
āmramāmam jale svinnam marditam drḍapāṇinā |
sitāśītāmbusamyuktam karpūramaricānvitam ||
prapānakamidam śreṣṭham bhīmasenena nirmitam |
sadyo rucikaram balyam śīghramindriyatarpaṇam ||
Translation - Fresh green mango should be boiled well in clean water. After self cooling it should be clearly mashed well with normal cool water (śītāmbu). Then it should be mixed well with rock sugar (sitā), camphor and black pipper powder. Among all prapanaka, it sits at top rank and was concocted by sage Bhimsen. It promotes better appetite (ruchi) and digestion, produces strength in the body, and quickly (śīgram) opens and awakens and refreshes (tarpaṇam) the 5 senses (indriya).
fresh green mango - 2 fruits
fresh clean water - 1 litre
red cane sugar - 20gm (about 4 tsp)
camphor/karpur - 1gm
black pepper, fresh ground - 1gm
From a local mango tree, freshly pick two large green mangoes that are not completely hard. Wash them with clean water to remove any dust or grime. Put the whole mangoes in an earthen pot. Add 1000ml clean, fresh water and boil on low flame for 15 minutes with the lid intact. After 15 minutes, turn off the flame and leave the pot to be cooled on its own over time, known as "self-cooling."
After 30 minutes, open the lid and mash the two cooked mangoes in the vessel. After properly mashing and removing the skin and central seed/pericarp from the boiled pulp, shift the boiled pulp and water mix into another vessel. Add 4 teaspoons red cane sugar that has been ground to powder. Add fresh chunks of camphor/karpoor and freshly-ground black pepper (golmorich, kali mirch, marica, Piper nigrum). Stir well for five minutes, adding prayers for good health. Serve with a smile. The rims of the serving glasses may be lined with saindhava salt or ground rock sugar.