Panaka (Indian Lemonade)


Panaka(Kannada)  is usually prepared on Sri Rama Navami a Hindu festival, celebrating of the birth of Lord Rama. Panaka or Panakam (Telugu) is a sweet drink prepared with jaggery, lemon and pepper. This is an Indian version of lemonade and uses jaggery instead of sugar.

Jaggery is a rich source of iron due to the process involved, using iron utensils. It is considered by some to be a particularly wholesome sugar and, unlike refined sugar, it retains more mineral salts. Moreover, the process does not involve chemical agents. Indian Ayurvedic medicine considers jaggery to be beneficial in treating throat and lung infections (Source:Wiki).


This day of Ram Navami used to be a special one in Bangalore the place where I grew up.  People performed special pooja that day and the neighbors (women) would invite each other to their houses to offer kumkum” and savor their Panaka, spiced buttermilk and Kosambari. Before my pre-teen years I used to enjoy going to other’s houses and trying out their special panaka, “Neeru majjige” (thinned and spiced buttermilk) and cucumber kosambari. Some people even added cantaloupe to make it more special. The combination is a treat in itself. 

We had a glorious day this past weekend. The weather was mild, pleasant and sunny at the same time. The sunlight in the morning radiating in our breakfast area was glorious and hard to miss. That inspired me to take these pictures.

The recipe here is more of a guideline and an idea; please change the quantity as per your taste. In our house, we prefer the tangy taste of lemon and so we add more lemon and less sweet.

Note: The color of the panaka depends on the color of the jaggery. The jaggery that I got recently from the Indian grocery was very light colored and hence the color is pale.




  • 2-3 cups water
  • Juice of 2 lemons 
  • ½ cup jaggery (Gur in Hindi) / use sugar or brown sugar if jaggery is not available
  • ½ tsp powdered cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp fine pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger ( I used fresh ginger as I did not have dry version) 


  • Take a big bowl and pour in the water. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let it sit for about 1-2 hours before serving.

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  1. Purnima says:

    RC, though raised in mumbai, our vacations used to be in Karkala, Mulki, Udupi, Mangaluru…my parents native! We used to b there for rathothsava in Karkala which is like a big fair!Loved the temple panaka so much that Ram Navmi or not..this same version of ur recipe with 20-25 mumbai lemons, me n mom used to make! 😀 We all love it so much!! Been ages since I made it!:D (Too long a comment..but u made me nostalgic..loved reading about Banglore as well!) Made my day!

  2. sushma says:

    RC we got all our panaka on that day together with the kosambri.. i just love those things. along wth that they also served spicy butter milk..loved ur pics..

  3. suparna says:

    Hi RC,
    I am awe struck by the snaps 🙂 damn good, I love this paanak completley…actually it’s sad that most of the people think of this awesome drink only during Ram Navami 🙁 it’s healthy and should be had more often with pepper quantity a little lessened…hmmm too much gyaan I guess but looking at the snap and reading ur post I was all excited and geard up 🙂 Thanks sweetie.Enjoy!

  4. Asha says:

    YUM!! Bella is great addition to any Indian drink or dish, I love it. I would prefer real ginger to ginger pd we get here, has a odd smell. Fresh ginger juice will do nicely! :))

  5. Soma says:

    What lovely pictures Supriya! Looks like a magazine cover!

    I have never had lemonade this way, with ginger & jaggery!! will wait for a warm day to make this. before that i have to go get jaggery. I can almost imagine the smell of ginger with lemon.

  6. RedChillies says:

    Thanks Nags. Sure thing, in fact we do not even notice the difference in sweetness by adding jaggery. Also it is better than sugar, so that is a bonus isn’t it?

    Thanks Deesha. We love panaka at home too and I made it for Rama Navami. It is guilt free compared to the lemonade that is usually loaded with white sugar.

    Thanks Raaga. No lemon in panaka? This is new to me. I checked your post for panaka and that is a great twist.

    Jee thanks Purnima and loved your comments. I am so glad that it brought back memories. Frankly, our native is North Kanara Karwar/Ankola and have had influence of Bombay. So I have not seen the Karkala or any SOuth Kanara rathothsava. But now that I am married to a South Kanara family, I have heard a lot about it from my husband though. But the Ram Navami is a ritual fanfare in Bangalore and it is fun.

  7. RedChillies says:

    Thanks Sushma. The trio combination is to die for isn’t it? That used to be my dinner on Rama Navami day, especially after eating it at 4-5 houses 🙂

    Thanks Suparna for your warm comments. It is always good to know other people’s idea. I agree that we are reminded of this only during Ram Navami, including me :-). Hopefully I will make it more often.
    In fact, now that you mention about pepper reminds me of something. My MIL says that even though pepper has that pungent flavor it is in fact ‘tampu’ for the body. She used to make kasaya with that during my pregnancy.

    Thank you very much dear Uma. The flavor is really wonderful.

    Thanks Madhu. Do you remember during Ram navami it is usally warm in Bangalore/ Karnataka? Reminds me of summer.

  8. RedChillies says:

    Thanks Priya. Now that summer is close, we will need this more often. IT is guilt free too 🙂

    Thanks ISG. The drink and the weather inspires one to do lot of things 🙂

    Thanks Asha. We love bella too anyday and add it to so many things. I have that same problem of dry ginger too and use fresh ginger.

    Thanks Soma. This is a common drink in the South and jaggery is used commonly instead of sugar. There is no differnce in taste and it is healthy too. So we have the added bonus.:-)

    Thanks MS. That is great inforamtion. I will check out your version also. I did not know that this drink prevailed during vedic times. So glad that I could taste this.

  9. SuperChef says: this drink. We used to get it in the temple in our native place an dus kids will always be in the front to collect it 🙂

  10. Vaishali says:

    I could really use that tall glass of lemonade right now, RC. I remember a version of this with raw mangoes that used to be incredible. The addition of pepper sounds unusual but delicious.

  11. Laavanya says:

    That looks so refreshing RC – i’ve always seen the darker coloured panagams… this looks great. You are right abt jaggery, the taste it imparts is unbeatable. I once added some powdered jagger i had to some tea I was making and i felt that it tasted a whole lot better. Ginger & lemon are always a winning combination.

  12. Miri says:

    The panakam looks really refreshing!!!

    I used to love jaggery and have it every which way…then I got this job which took me up front and close to the way jaggery is actually made in India.
    Believe me, it turned me off completely – without going into the details – jaggery we get today has all kinds of impurities from dust to cow dung mixed into it. This is an unregulated cottage industry with every and any one who can make it, doing so in their own backyards. The people I met were brazen about adding “masala” to the jaggery – chemicals basically. Sigh…what I would give for the “good ol days”!


  13. RedChillies says:

    Thanks Mahimaa. Lemon adds a great flavor to the panaka.

    Thanks Madhuram. Great minds think alike 🙂

    Thanks Le @HC. Hmmmm…unusally thirsty eh? you are making me curious now. But then this is a good drink to quench that thirst.

    Thank you so much Cham.

    Thanks Superchef. Those good old days, wonder where they are gone?

  14. RedChillies says:

    Thanks Vaishali. Raw mango idea seems great. Though I confess I have not tasted it before. But I am sure the taste will just as refreshing.

    Thanks aquadaze. IT is refreshing indeed.

    Thanks Laavanya.I agree, I am so used to the darker color myself. But the jaggery I got from Indain grocery was very light not the usual dark color. Now I do have to confess that I am a tea addict, but don’t have the courage to try it with jaggery. But then if somebody makes it for me I might try it.`

    Thanks Miri for the information.That is a deep insight and things that I was not aware of. It is one of those things isn’t it, never know what goes behind the scenes. Same with restaurants and other products as well. I guess I will be more careful.

    Thanks Madhumathi.

  15. Ujwal says:

    Looks so refreshing… I could gulp it down with phovu 😀 I prefer limbiya sharbath and paanak anytime over aerated drinks!

  16. Lubna Karim says:

    Wow looks beautilful…Never tasted this before….I can’t leave the comment in your salad post so leaving comments here….Salad looks tempting and yum. By sseing cucumber pieces i mistook them to raw mango pieces….

  17. pontch says:

    I Never heard or taste this kind of lemonade but the color and your explanation make me want to try it.
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures. 😉

  18. Gena Reano says:

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  19. Vishali Shetty says:

    Wow RedChillies, Thanks for this recipe and all the other recipes. Panaka is served as ‘Prasadam’ in my place during ‘HariSeve’. I’m a Mangalorean and hence i can relate to most of your recipes. And your idea of mentioning the local names of the dishes(Kannada/Konkani) in parentheses makes it more appealing to me. 🙂 I have just started cooking(as i’m jobless for 3 months this vacation :D) and was searching for some good and easy to make recipes and i’m glad I came across your website. Thanks a lot 🙂

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