This spicy nimbu pani cocktail is a refreshing Indian cocktail that has serranos for heat, lime zest for tang, and black salt or kala namak for sourness.
This drink is inspired by India’s limeade drink called nimbu pani which has a tangy sourness from black salt or kala namak. It is so easy to make this cocktail for yourself or in a large batch for a party. The key is to make a simple syrup that is steeped with serrano peppers for heat, lime zest for tang, and black salt for the iconic sour taste.
Nimbu Pani Ingredients and substitutes
- Kala Namak (Black Salt) - Black salt is funky and sour which gives this drink its mouth puckering taste. A good substitute for kala namak is chaat masala which often contains this delicious salt.
- Lime - A combo of lime zest and juice gives this dish its acid. Substitute lemons if in a pinch.
- Serranos - Traditional nimbu pani doesn't have chilis but I love a good spicy desi cocktail. So I like adding serranos which gives the drink an extra kick. If you would like the drink milder, either use jalapeños or omit chilis completely.
- Sugar - This dish needs sweetness so it first starts by melting sugar with the other ingredients to create a flavorful sugar syrup to add to the drink.
- Seltzer Water - Seltzer water is what gives the dish bubbles and lightness. If you can find lime flavored seltzer it is even better!
- Alcohol of choice - I love adding vodka or gin which pairs perfectly with this drink. However, you can easily make this a mocktail by omitting the alcohol completely.
What is black salt or kala namak?
Black Salt or kala namak is commonly used in Indian cooking and gives dishes a sour and tangy flavor. Despite its name, its appearance is actually pink-ish in hue and its texture is more powdery than traditional table salt. Upon opening a bag of black salt, you may be taken aback by its strong hard boiled egg smell due the sulfur compounds in the salt. But trust me, when mixed into a cocktail it gives off a tangy and sour flavor that will have you craving more.
What can I substitute black salt with?
You can buy black salt or kala namak in the Indian grocery store or online. However, you can substitute chaat masala or amchur powder (dried mango powder) which will give you a similar tangy flavor. Note that chaat masala and amchur powder are darker than black salt so using them will result in your drink being a darker brown color rather than clear like pictured above!
You may also find nimbu pani masala or drink mix at the local Indian store. Just be careful with these mixes as they may already contain sugar in the mix so make sure to reduce or remove the sugar in this recipe to compensate.
Indian Inspired Cocktail for a Large Party
This recipe for a spicy nimbu pani cocktail is easily tripled or quadrupled for a large party! If you don’t want to squeeze that many limes for the simple syrup, you can buy lime juice at the store which will save you time. Simply add all the ingredients, mix, and put it in a large drink dispenser for your guests to enjoy! Guests can always add a splash of alcohol if they wish. This drink is a great Indian summer cocktail to bring to picnics or to serve at Super Bowl parties.
Other recipes that pair well
Desi cocktails pair great with desi cocktail snacks. Here are some of my favorite to serve alongside this spicy nimbu pani cocktail.Print