Wildcard Winner

Louisa Shafia Chooses Saffron and Cardamom Lemonade

by • June 19, 2013 15 Comments

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Every Monday and Wednesday, we'll announce a new Wildcard winner: a recipe that may not have been entered in (or won) a contest, but a recipe that we've tested and loved.

Today: Our Guest Editor Louisa Shafia finds a drink for a summer gathering. 

Saffron and Cardamom Lemonade

All week, we've been featuring Louisa Shafia and her cookbook The New Persian Kitchen. For her Wildcard pick, though, she's borrowing from India -- and finds similarities between the beverages of the two areas. Here's what she has to say about Saee Khandekar's Saffron and Cardamom Lemonade Concentrate:

Cardamom and saffron in a beverage? I love it! This delicate drink is so simple, but it evokes the bouquet of flavors that makes food from this part of the world so intriguing. India and Iran share many common food traditions, and this lemonade fits neatly into the category of a Persian sharbat, a fresh, cold drink made from fruit and flower essences. The words “sherbet,” “sorbet,” and “syrup” all have their root in this word. For a casual Sunday gathering in my friend’s backyard, I whipped up a batch of this lemonade and served it with Persian-spiced (turmeric, sumac, lime) chicken wings. I took the author’s suggestion and added a dash of vodka, subbing sparkling water for still, and it was sublime!

Saffron and Cardamom Lemonade Concentrate by Saee Khandekar

Makes 500 ml. of concentrate

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons green cardamom powder
7 to 8 strands of saffron 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by James Ransom

Tags: wildcard, wildcard winner, louisa shafia, guest editors, lemonade, saffron, india, indian food

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Comments (15)


almost 2 years ago walkie74

I used Splenda instead of sugar, and..SUCCESS!! My husband and I drank the entire pitcher in three days. I had to sweet talk some local friends into letting me get more lemons from their tree :p Good work!


almost 2 years ago kgindermaur

I didn't have an issue with the amount of sugar as others below; the lemon juice, spices, and sugar interact nicely in the drink in its full form (aka with water). I love cardamom, and it actually makes the drink a little spicy at first. The saffron is very subtle. I used a mesh strainer, which didn't catch much of the cardamom powder at all, but it's not a problem in the drink so long as you stir before serving. Thanks for the great combination of refreshing flavors!


almost 2 years ago Georgetown-DC

I made this tonight. so worth the sugar. Of course I made it an adult cocktail by adding some artisan vodka to it. we used soda water instead of water. fantastic. Thank you for sharing.


almost 2 years ago Big Flavors

I love all of the flavors here, and am half Persian, so it's like I just HAVE to try this out, right? What a fun combination!


about 2 years ago walkie74

As a diabetic, I'm a little leery of the amount of sugar too, even though I know it's going to be heavily diluted. I'm using Splenda instead, or I might use Truvia (be warned, it tends to send one to the bathroom often). I'll let you guys know how it turns out!


about 2 years ago Georgetown-DC

I too am concerned about the sugar. I saw your note about how little sugar is actually in each drink, however, I am wondering if there could be a substitute for the sugar? Otherwise, the drink looks great and I plan to make it for a garden party next weekend.


about 2 years ago EmilyC

This is so lovely with the cardamom and saffron. Can't wait to try it.


about 2 years ago Jennifer Farley | Savory Simple

My goodness this looks incredible.


about 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

I like the sound of this 'cordial'. Cardamom and saffron, boy...two of my fave things. Congrats Saee and thanks Louisa for digging up treasure.


about 2 years ago Foodie Babe

That is a lot of unnecessary sugar!


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

This recipe is for a concentrate, and you only use a few tablespoons in each drink (which you can adjust to taste). It's a lovely, refreshing drink.


about 2 years ago randall2v

That much sugar.............come on.


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

randall2v, see my response to Foodie Babe above.


about 2 years ago Louisa Shafia

This is such a wonderful recipe, simple and sublime, thanks to Saee Khandekar for sharing it!


about 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds wonderful congratulations on the WC! Adding the vodka and sparkling water sounds great.