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!
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
Spicy Nimbu Pani Cocktail
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- Diet: Vegetarian
This spicy nimbu pani cocktail is a refreshing Indian cocktail that has serranos for heat, lime zest for tang, and black salt for sourness.
Spicy Nimbu Pani Syrup Ingredients
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1-2 serrano peppers, thinly sliced (use more or less based on preference)
- 1.5 teaspoons black salt
- 2 limes
- 1.5 oz (3 Tbs) Vodka or Gin
- 1.5 oz (3 Tbs) Spicy Nimbu Pani syrup
- 4 oz (½ cup) Lime Hard Seltzer
Making the Nimbu Pani Spicy Syrup (Makes enough for 4 drinks)
- Zest two limes and set the shavings aside. Then proceed to squeeze lime juice from the two limes which should yield ~¼ cup of lime juice and set aside. If you have a particularly dry lime, squeeze more limes until you have ¼ cup of lime juice.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add sugar, water, and serranos and stir. Allow the water to come to a simmer. The sugar should be completely dissolved until there are no more granules of sugar remaining.
- Turn off the heat and add black salt, lime juice, and the lime zest.
- Allow the syrup to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes or in the freezer for 5 minutes . You can filter out the serranos to reduce heat in this drink or leave them in for a spicer cocktail. The syrup can be stored in an airtight mason jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks until ready to use. The serranos when stored will turn a darker color as they steep in the syrup!
- Add ice followed by the remaining cocktail ingredients to a chilled glass. Make sure to stir thoroughly or else the syrup will sink to the bottom of the drink. You can optionally garnish with a lime slice. Enjoy!
- You can substitute chaat masala for black salt
- You can easily double or triple this recipe for a large party
- You can make this cocktail a mocktail by replacing the hard seltzer with either lime seltzer or lime soda.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 5
- Category: Drinks
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: spicy nimbu pani cocktail
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