One of the most iconic preparations that really celebrates the enormous Pahadi lemon in all its glory, is Neebu Sana or Sana Hua Neebu.
India is brimming with a variety of lemons, most of which are far superior to the yellow, freckled one sitting in your fridge. In addition to their flavour, a lot of these lemon varieties like Bengal’s Gondhoraj Lebu and Assami Nemu tenga, are also known for their rich fragrance and juice. In fact, the word Gondho Raj means, ‘King of fragrance’ in Bengali. If we go further North, we have the Pahadi Nimbu which is somewhat of a winter speciality. The lemon is big in size (almost the size of a cantaloupe), round, yellow in colour and full of juice. One of the most iconic preparations that really celebrates the gigantic lemon in all its glory, is Neebu Sana or Sana Hua Neebu.
It is a creamy-citrusy preparation comprising Pahadi neebu, fresh curd, salt, crushed jaggery and bhaang ka namak, an eclectic condiment made of hemp seeds. In Uttrakhand, growth and cultivation hemp seeds are very common due to the topography and climatic conditions of the region, the locals also vouch for its health qualities. The bhang ka namak can be prepared at home by mixing roasted hemp seeds, green chillies, coriander leaves, lemon juice and mint leaves. You can mix it all in a blender, or use the traditional sil-batta, to blend these ingredients together for a paste-like mix.
To make the Nimbu sanna, you need to cut the lemon vertically, and take out the entire pulp using hands. Break it in tinier pieces, using your hands again. Take a mixing bowl, add the lemon chunks, some whipped curd, chopped radish, bhang ka namak and jaggery and whisk it together and you are done. Grab a spoon and tuck into it as is. It is that ridiculously easy.
The dish is loved by people of all age groups for its citrusy, comforting flavours that stay with you long after you have emptied the bowl. But in addition to this, Nimbu ka Sanna is also known to be replete with many health benefits. The Pahadi limbu is a treasure of vitamin C and antioxidants, which is further mixed with gut-fortifying yoghurt.
The Pahadi Nimbu is not available across the year, which is what makes the wait for it all the more special. Have you ever tried Sanna Hua Nimbu? Do let us know.