Sana hua nimbu is a very unusual way of eating lemons. Lemon segments mixed with a unique seasoning and fresh yogurt is something you wouldn't experience anywhere else. But in Kumaon region they make this and a few other versions of sana hua nimbu that they call as nimbu saan too as I got to know at Instagram.
The lemons of hill regions all over India are so flavourful and unique that I feel like growing all of them. But the thing is, a fact that has become a philosophy for me now, that the unique geographical location helps retain the uniqueness of the produce.
It wouldn't be the same if I grow it in my Delhi garden, I have experienced it by growing various chili varieties for years, the Dalle of Sikkim, the Bhut jolokia of Assam, the bird chilies from Goa, all of them loose the heat and unique flavour once they grow here. Many other vegetables, fruits and other crops grow well in other geographical locations but most chilies and lemons have their own reservations.
It has been an important lesson in life.
We have to travel to get the best local flavours. We can bring back some of the local goodness back home and enjoy it for a few days more so when I brought back these 2 large hill lemons from kumaon (also called as Galgal) I had to replicate the recipe that I learnt from Janhavi Prasada.
I was in Nainital for the weekend for a culinary retreat at the Abbotsford Nainital, curated by EatWithIndia and Janhavi Prasada who takes care of this beautiful ancestral property of hers. I will share more about the trip but this is to share the sana hua nimbu that we relished sitting in the sun, just the way it is enjoyed by the locals during winters, as a warming snack as Janhavi informed.
I feel it is more of a immunity boosting snack for the winters when more people fall sick in hills. All the ingredients are cooling for the system except bhangira that turns it into a balanced winter snack.
I have had other versions of sana hua nimbu earlier and all of them were good, but this family recipe of Janhavi is so good I took a 3rd helping, absolutely relished it.
(served 2-3 as a snack, can be served as a cold starter)
one Kumaoni lemon
2 tbsp hemp seeds (Cannabis seeds, bhangira or bhanga as known locally)
1 tsp cumin seeds
one green chili chopped
salt to taste
3 tbsp grated jaggery
few springs of mint leaves (I used mint powder)
dash of mustard oil (optional but recommended)
3/4 cup thick yogurt
Dry roast the bhangira seeds till they start spluttering. Add cumin seeds to the same pan and roast them together till cumin turns fragrant. Add the chopped green chili, take the pan off the stove and mix well. Wait till it gets colder, pulverise to make a powder. The bhangira has a lot of oil in it so the powder will be crumbly. Add the mint leaves and blend again. I used mint powder so this was not required.
Cut the lemon into 2 halves longitudinally. Peel off the rind and separate the segments, discarding the seeds and parchment like skin.
Mix the lemon segments and the roasted bhangira mix, add salt to taste, jaggery, yogurt in a bowl and mix everything nicely.
Serve right away. The sana hua nimbu stays good for a couple of hours at room temperature in winters. It is a warming food that is eaten sitting in the sun. It definitely is quite nourishing in more ways, great pre and probiotic too.
After I finished the 2 lemons I brought back, I tried this recipe with Kinnow oranges and it tasted really good. So the sana hua nimbu recipe is going to be a regular in my home, in summers it will be a nice cooling lunch if I keep the bhangira out.