Summer drinks

Nothing, to my mind, beats home-made lemonade on a boiling hot day. Well, ok, maybe a glass of chilled white wine or a cold beer with condensation running down the bottle, but I’d like to talk here about non-alcoholic drinks.

I’ll come to the lemonade in a minute but first let me introduce you to Sekanjabin (pronounced seh-kan-ja-BEEN). If you haven’t come across it before, this is a traditional sweet and sour summer drink from Iran. The recipe is from my friend Arax but my version is inauthentic, because I tweaked it to make it less sweet.


A jug of Sekanjabin with lime


450 g sugar

500 ml water

125 ml white wine vinegar

Lime juice and rinds

Fresh mint leaves

To serve: 

Sliced cucumber and more mint and lime


Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, put on a medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the rind and juice of a lime, halved and squeezed. Lower the heat and let it bubble gently for 10-15 minutes.

Add the vinegar and simmer for 25-30 minutes until the syrup thickens. Add a small bunch of mint during the last 15 minutes.

Image of a basket of mint

A rather large bunch of mint leaves

Taste and adjust sweet/sourness. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Remove the mint and lime rind and strain into a bottle.

Use as a cordial, diluting with water and serving over ice. I still found it too sweet for my palate so added the juice of two or three limes to each jug of diluted cordial. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs, cucumber slices and thinly sliced limes.

Home-Made Lemonade

  • Servings: makes 3 bottles of concentrated cordial
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Image of lemons in a basket of mixed fruit

This is really refreshing on a hot day and popular with the designated drivers at lunch parties.

It makes a concentrated cordial which you dilute with water. The original recipe calls for twice as much sugar but I prefer it tarter. You will need to store it in the fridge, though, as it won’t keep as well with less sugar.

Image of lemons being juiced


The rind and juice of 8 lemons

1 kilo of golden or white castor or granulated sugar

4 pints of water

2 oz of citric acid


Image of lemons being peeled

Sarah paring the lemons

Put the sugar into your biggest mixing bowl – or a spotlessly clean bucket. Add the citric acid.

Peel the lemons using a vegetable peeler so that you take off the rind and leave the white pith behind. Add to the sugar.

Image of bottled lemonade

Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice. Add the lemon juice to the bowl. Boil the kettle and add two pints of boiling water to the bowl to dissolve the sugar. Mix well, cover and leave to steep for 24 hours.

Strain the mixture, discarding the solids, and pour the lemonade into scrupulously clean bottles. Stopper and store in the fridge.

To serve, dilute to taste with water, adding ice cubes and a few thin slices of lemon.

Borage Flower Ice Cubes

  • Servings: As many as you like
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Borage – or to give it its more attractive name the starflower – is something of a panacea in traditional medicine.

Image of a borage plant in flower

It gives me some comfort to know that when I throw the flowers into my Pimms, I am combating any possible hot flushes, not to mention colic, cramps, diarrhoea and bladder disorders. All that and alcohol too. Nom.

Putting aside its possible medicinal uses, for a rather hairy plant it has a very pretty flower, a blue, five-sided star. When it’s been floating around in a jug of Pimms for a while though, it does tend to look a bit drowned and soggy.

So I freeze the flowers in ice cubes, which looks ridiculously cute and has the advantage of keeping the flowers looking good for longer.

Just drop one flower into each section of an ice cube tray, fill with water and freeze.Bag them up and use them when you need them.

Image of borage flower ice cubes in a glass bowl

5 thoughts on “Summer drinks

  1. Wow… famous at last! Many thanks, Mrs Portly, for mentioning me in your Sekanjabin recipe.. I’m delighted! What I now do with this recipe is make the sugar almost double – I know, crazy! – so that it’s much sweeter and thicker, in which case you need about an inch at the bottom of the glass, mixed with lots of ice and water… I’ve had nothing but this during the hot weather, and it really is refreshing..
    I am going to try your home made lemonade recipe, for sure – it looks delicious.. 🙂

  2. Pingback: A slap-up Sunday lunch | Mrs Portly's Kitchen

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