My Renewed Affair With Panakam, The South Indian Drink That Will Make Your Summer Bearable

As a child, my usual summer evenings used to be at my Tamilian friend Sindu’s home. On one such Delhi afternoon, Sindu’s mum arrived with what looks two tall glasses of muck. A glass of muddy brown water is not exactly something that gets a 12-year-old excited.

“No, I can’t drink mud water,” I said in what I thought was my polite voice. I still kick myself for saying that.

Aunty smiled.

“This brown liquid is called panakam is made with pounded jaggery and a dash of pepper and it is very famous at our hometown (A city named Ponneri in Tamil Nadu).”

I rolled my eyes and got back to snake and ladders. What can I say, I was a jerk as a kid.

Soon my family shifted from Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar area where Sindu’s family was our neighbour and the memories about the drink just vanished.

A post shared by Maitreyi Muralidhar (@maitrigm) on

However, last weekend when I went to their home after almost 15 years, her mother once again served me the same drink and then I realised how much I missed it. On asking about the drink, she explained that panakam is used as an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in several parts of South India. As jaggery contains electrolytes and raw carbohydrates, it’s the perfect antidote for dehydration. The drink gives instant boost.

A post shared by Tikulli Dogra (@tikulli) on

She even told me about its unique property. Unlike other drinks, panakam tastes good even at the room temperature and tastes even better when chilled.

Panakam is served as the main prasad on Ramanavami especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

150 grams Jaggery
600 ml water
3 lemon juice
1/2 tsp dry ginger powder

Soak jaggery in the water till it melts
Filter the water and add the lemon juice
Add the ginger powder and stir well